Sunday, 22 February 2009

Let's hear it for Melinda

Tx: Sunday 22nd February 2009

Hello everyone! I can confirm that I am now officially old, having finished a week-long festival of birthday celebrations, and to round off a wonderful seven days I now get to recap Dancing on Ice! [Would it help if I booked James Marsden to come on the show for your next birthday? - Steve]

But first, let us take a moment to laugh at Nicky Slater, courtesy of the wonderful gang at perfectsixes:


More to follow later.

And let us remind ourselves what happened last week. It was, of course, an 80s celebration, in honour of the fact that a) I am an 80s baby and b) oh, yeah, Torvill and Dean did some skating in that decade. Some waxen Scouse creation is apparently competing in this show, but I've not seen him, thus it IS NOT HAPPENING.

This week! Just seven remain, five girls and two boys, and Donal has nobody to talk about football with because a) girls don't like football and b) somebody called Ray is obsessed with his hair. That I can well believe.

Titles!

I am loving the fact that Phil looks all broody every time he surveys Holly's blooming pregnancy. She's resplendent in pink; his suit looks maroon with shiny piping. And before we get anything exciting happening, we have Will Young singing some dirge and attempting to outstare the camera with his steely gaze. Obviously he's standing on a plinth in the middle of the rink, and Jayne and Chris emerge amidst the dry ice to skate round him. I really like Jayne's dress. I laugh out loud at some of Chris's emoting, but that's because I'm mean. There is whooping, but seriously, the best things I can say about that is that firstly, Jayne and Chris were there, and secondly, it was better than Will's appearance on Question Time.

Holly and Phil call them over (Holly's voice sounds WRECKED), and declare that they thought they were snogging at one point. (They weren't, but I'm sure it'll be macroed to hell by the end of the night, right?) Jayne says it's been a good week, and the semi-final is only a few weeks away. Chris says they continue to push the contestants every week because there is a new mountain every week.

This week's required element is the wonderfully tautological compulsory chain of elements - a spiral (you know what that is), a drag (like a lunge), an Ina Bauer (skating on parallel blades) [so, no relation to Jack, then? - Steve], then a stop on one foot (um...self-explanatory, I hope). Phil looks frightened. Jayne says they can do the elements individually but they're putting them together; Chris says that doing it unassisted is hard (chortle). They won't say who's been finding it tricky, because we'll see later. Ha.

Time to meet the couples - Zoe and Matt, who are in black and gold [I'd say this gave away what they'd be skating to if it hadn't already been used once this series - Steve]; Melinda and Fred in the cast-offs from Holly's dress; Donal and Florentine, in sparkly turquoise (aw, she has a ribbon in her hair, I like it); Roxy and Dan (Roxy seems to be attempting to look like Marilyn Monroe in The Seven-Year Itch); Jess and Pavel; Ray and Maria, who have come as the chorus from Grease and look even more hateful than usual; and bizarrely Coleen and Stuart are the last ones on tonight.

Nobody skates until after the break, when we'll see Matt knock Zoe's legs from under her, and Melinda punching people.

Break!

Phil welcomes us back, and we get to meet the ice panel with a variety of Oscar-themed gags - Karen is the first person the stars would thank in a speech; Nicky's case is more curious than Benjamin Button's (and I genuinely have to stop the SkyPlus here because I'm laughing so much); Jason would be Best Baddie; Ruthie is no stranger to a red carpet [too many Firecrotch jokes, must contain self - Steve]; and Robin has won plenty of awards himself, including OLYMPIC GOLD 29 YEARS AGO TODAY. Holly patronises him with "great achievement". He says that some of the contestants are missing the target, but it's all down to what they do tonight.

I think it's time for another macro while Phil bores us with a reiteration of the judging process.


Last week, Jason did not feel any thrill for Zoe. No mention of whether he felt a thrill for Matt. [If he didn't, I suspect he is not actually alive. - Steve] This week she wants to enjoy her skating again, and is very excited to be dancing to Abba's Mamma Mia. Jayne says the beginning of the routine is very dynamic. Alternatively, dangerous - Zoe and Matt keep kicking each other and squealing. And as if that wasn't bad enough, they are forced to go and watch the West End cast of Mamma Mia in rehearsals.

I am HATING the stupid flare-hems they've sewn onto Zoe's trousers. Also hating the shite angry acting they are both attempting. It looks even more ludicrous when they get into the routine and plaster on their standard beams. [I rather liked it, but then I am firmly TEAM ZOE so I may be slightly biased. - Steve] Zoe looks a little unsteady when she's not holding Matt's hand, but the chain of elements comes off without any major problems. Oh, and then they crucify the last bar and a half of the song by slowing it down. Scores - Karen 4.5, Nicky 5.0 Jason 5.0, Ruthie 5.0 and Robin 4.0 for a total of 23.5. Zoe loses all power of speech. Matt is happy. Phil reveals that he was wearing his Blue Peter badge inside his lapel, and Zoe suggests that she could have lent him her gold one so that he matched her outfit.

Jason says it was a good opening and a wonderful routine, admiring her acting (srsly?), and now wants her to work on the breadth on the top of the shoulder-line. The audience boo but everyone with a braincell realises that this is helpful criticism. Robin makes a long list of skating criticisms, telling her that it's cheating. I heart that man.

Last week Melinda had to skate off again because nobody is voting for her. This week she's been a pitiful mass of blubbing, and so instead of skating she's gone to talk to boxer Ricky Hatton. Ah yes, Dancing on Ice invariably finds perfect training sessions for its skaters. [Until the day it brings in The Barrowman as an acting coach, it will not be as bad as Strictly. - Steve] Melinda skips around the ring in golden shoes. There is actually no evidence that she has done any skating this week.

Melinda and Fred are skating to Let's Hear It For The Boy, which is an AMAZING song [trufax - Steve], and I really like the step work they do at the start. She looks a bit like a rag doll in the first lift...oh, and the third and fourth. And fifth. It doesn't help that she looks terrified and then seems to suddenly remember to smile. Scores - Karen 4.0, Nicky, Jason and Ruthie all 3.5, and Robin 4.0, for a total of 18.5. People are booing but I'd say that's fair enough - her routines are all a bit meh for me. Phil praises them for the drape lift which concluded the routine; Fred is proud of Melinda for taking risks "which some of the others don't" - ooh, burn! Melinda enthuses about Ricky Hatton. Jayne says it was a confident performance. Karen says the lifts were strong (well, Fred is strong) and her personality shines through; Nicky agrees, like we care, and suggests "fight[ing] at practising", like that makes sense. He seems to have finished his comment and then picks up another floating train of thought, and Jason, just out of shot, is clearly annoyed. Nicky tries to make a joke out of it - "Jason's getting bored now" - and Jason then endears himself to me for at least the next three minutes by giving a magnificent queeny sigh and declaring, "I'm ALWAYS bored by you, Nicky." Once Nicky shuts up, Jason says what's letting her down is her leg-lines, because she's not pointing her feet or turning them out - "they're almost prosthetic." Melinda witters about it being a challenge. Oh, shush.

After the break, Roxy tries the headbanger again, surveyed by what seems to be a posse of schoolchildren on their half-term outing.

We're back after the break - look, there's Tony Blackburn! Next up, Donal and Florentine. Last week, he looked like something out of Miami Vice and finished fourth, and they hope to improve this week. Rehearsal footage - Chris gropes his arse, and then inspects it. I'm not even making this up. [After Ben Miller made out with Rob Brydon on QI this week, nothing surprises me any more. - Steve] Their song this week is Everybody Hurts, and he is not used to emotion. So Florentine makes him watch a video-message from his kids, who are cute and want him to make them pancakes this week. Bless.

Anyway, it's all very lovely, but there's a slip, which he recovers from well, and presumably will get more marks for from Nicky, because as we have seen previously, it is GOOD to fall because you then get to show your mettle by getting back into the routine. The audience whoop and cheer like gibbons. Scores - Karen 3.0, Nicky 4.0 (told you), Jason 3.5, Ruthie 3.5 and Robin 3.0 for a total of 17.0. Donal was pleased with the routine; Florentine explains that their blades just clicked but it was still lovely to skate with him tonight. Jayne says that could happen to anyone, even "Chris and I". Chris says that Donal stayed in character, so well done for that.

Jason says that it was much smoother and had a better flow, and he applauds him for staying in character. He suggests that he savours his tricks more, so that we all get to enjoy them with him. Ruthie agrees, and reveals that she went skating this week with her kids, and she fell over three times, giving her a new-found respect for skating. She says that he looked comfortable ON ICE. Nicky says it is about presenting your partner, and it was smooth and beautiful.

Dan is shoving an electric fan up Roxy's skirt backstage. Really. This week she wants to improve, and wants to do that through the medium of putting the headbanger in again. She tried it a fortnight ago but it failed because she gave her foot to Dan in the wrong position so he couldn't lift her. She is determined to correct that this week, though, because she doesn't want "to let Christopher Dean down". She's still screwing it up in rehearsal, and Dan says, "If I'd bounced her, she would have smashed her face on the ice." Oh, sod it, Dan. She wants to do the headbanger - bang her bloody head. That'll teach her for not laying on the ice correctly. [And if I may just have a massive moan here, their version of the headbanger still sucks whatever Roxy is doing with her feet. Suzanne's was so awesome because she went into it from a standing position, which is so much more dramatic and dangerous-looking. Roxy just lies down and waits for Dan to pick her up and whirl her around - it's so dramatically inert in comparison. Also, I just watched Suzanne's performance again when I found that clip and fuck me, it's amazing. I miss Suzanne. - Steve]

They are, of course, skating to I Wanna Be Loved Be You. Roxy gurns and pouts her way through it, and Dan has to support her through the required element. She pulls a face before going into the headbanger, but they manage it! Dan applauds her. Scores - 4.0s from everyone except Ruthie, who gives a 3.0, for a total of 19.0. She says she doesn't care about the score because she has done the headbanger, whoop whoop. That's just as well, really. Roxy enthuses about Jayne, Chris and Dan; Dan says Roxy simply does not give up.

Holly says it still makes her nervous watching the headbanger, "but Roxy nailed it, didn't she, Robin?" And Robin is on fine form tonight, and I quite want to kiss him when he snarks, "Um, Daniel nailed it. Roxy did what she needed to do." [Exactly my point, though I do not have Olympic Gold to reinforce the validity of my comments, sadly. - Steve] Holly tries to get him to be complimentary by praising her bravery, and he truly has taken his bitch pills because he adds that his marks didn't take into account the headbanger - they would have been the same without it. Subtext - so stop making such a fucking fuss about putting in showy tricks and concentrate on your skating, bint. Ruthie gets Roxy's name wrong, but eventually spits out that she doesn't like Roxy and ends up just watching Dan. Jason thinks it was quite a charming performance, and he enjoyed being proved wrong.

Still to come - more skating!

Phil welcomes us back and introduces Jessica and Pavel - "her husband's been smashing fours in the West Indies, but will she be happy with anything less than a 6.0?" She is delighted to be skating to Toni Braxton's Unbreak My Heart; Pavel, in the background, looks less excited. She claims to be struggling with the required element, and is exhausted. So she is cheered up by a video-message from her husband, Mr Jessica Taylor, and then she bursts into tears to hear him say he is supporting her. Has she not spoken to him since he's been on tour, then? Weird.

There's a terrible piece of literal choreography for the lyric "I need your arms to hold me now", which makes me hide behind a cushion, but apart from that, it is a pretty routine and I almost believe that Jess and Pav might be in love. Almost. Scores - 5.0 from everyone except Nicky, because he's a prick. Total of 24.5. Jessica is gobsmacked. Pav confesses that one of their lifts went wrong because he didn't pick her up properly - "I missed her legs. I don't know how I missed them, they are very long." Ha. Chris praises them for covering up the mistake. Karen says the passion and feeling was there. Jason says it was a sincere, dramatic interpretation, and he enjoyed it. He suggests adding a sense of growing in all of her positions. Nicky's opinions, as always, are unwanted, and this time are unsolicited.

Ray and Maria are next. He VTs about being happy to get 6.0s. This week he has a rock'n'roll number. Sadly there is no rehearsal footage of him hurting himself, only him hurting Maria. Sorry, this is where my patience with him runs out. Fast-forwarding now. Steve will let you know what happens if he has the stomach for it. I just don't. I'm truly very sorry. He's just such a sickening, entitled, smug, plastic-faced man-child. [Honestly, the things I do for this blog. It was the usual: showy, skilled, and utterly nauseating. I will admit the high kick was impressive. I spoke to my mum about it on the phone and though she doesn't really give a toss about this show because it clashes with Lark Rise to Candleford, she thinks he's very good. I don't care - he mustn't win because he must be punished for having that awful, awful face and making me look at it every week. He got 6.0s from everyone except Jason, who gave him 5.5. I assume they're just going to alternate each week which judge has to give him 5.5 so he doesn't get 30 again until the final. - Steve]

Ad break, in which I have to compose myself.

Phil welcomes us back for the final contestant - Coleen, who was the Lady in Red last week. She doesn't like getting negative comments. Be better then. How many more times must I explain this? She and Stuart are skating to The Shoop-Shoop Song this week, and is very happy because she likes it. She is not good at skating, but she thinks she might have an inner showgirl. Like Elizabeth Berkley did? [Maybe she should wear a Ver-sase for her routine? - Steve] Stuart reassures her that she's not rubbish, and she concludes that she should start believing in herself, because the people who are voting for her believe in her.

She looks like she's having more fun than last week, but I suspect Ruthie might still deem this tentative. She's looking at Stuart all the time, and not in the good "strong partnership" way, in the "five-year-old looking for reassurance" way. They fail to finish at anything approaching the right time. Gubba patronises her by saying that she is flying the flag for millions of housewives. Scores - 3.5 from everyone except Jason and Robin who give 3.0s for a total of 16.5. Coleen hams it up and talks in fridge-magnet joke cliches before telling Chris to stop laughing.

Before Karen gets to give her comments, Ruthie interrupts to apologise to Roxy for calling her Zoe. Then Karen has stolen the bitch pills from Robin - "You are so much fun until you put your skates on." Jason high-fives her. HA! Karen attempts to dig herself out of the hole. Jason was happy that Karen took on his role for a minute, and Coleen sticks her fingers in her ears. He says her cartwheel was like a gingerbread man. Snort. Nicky attempts to make his views heard, but as ever, nobody cares, and he hollers, "I'll tell you after!"

So that's your lot, and it's time for a recap - Zoe Acting to Abba; Melinda looking frantic but fighting; Donal clipping Florentine's blade with emotion; Roxy doing the headbanger and everyone being singularly unbothered; Jess and some literal choreography; some smug Scouse tosser; Coleen being a gingerbread man.

Results will be in within the hour!

The skate-off

Earlier, these seven couples danced ON ICE for our votes! Now one celebrity contender will be dragged off the rink and shot! This is Dancing on Ice - the skate-off!

Titles!

Phil and Holly are still present and correct, and they remind us of what happened earlier before the voting lines close. Then it's time for the Hot! Backstage! Action! Zoe cannot believe her score. Melinda thinks positive comments really help but she has a lot more work to do. Donal says tonight was the best skate he's ever had. Roxy jabbers about nothing. Jess was pleased that Jason liked her routine. Pav moos, "More, more, more will come!", which seems to puzzle her. Ray says, "Eh, eh, eh, calm down." Jason says that Ray lacked height in the overhead lift. Coleen says it is down to the public vote, and Stuart is pleased with "good marks - for us", which is quite sweet.

A final word from the judges - Robin says it was tough, but Jess and Ray did best with the required element because they did it by themselves. Jason says Jess and Zoe were best in terms of performance, and Karen agrees.

This is it - the results are in, and Phil touches his ear. Hooray! In no particular order, the couples safe and skating next week are - Coleen and Stuart; Zoe and Matt; Ray and Maria; Donal and Florentine - and the fifth couple safe and skating next week will be revealed after the break.

Break!

And the final couple who'll be performing next week - Roxy and Dan! Bloody hell, that must mean that Jess got practically NO VOTES AT ALL. [Whimper. Suddenly the prospects of Ray winning look all too likely. I feel this is my fault for saying on Saturday that the early frontrunner never wins this show, and assuming that Jess would take it. Damn you, voting public. Although I voted for Zoe, so I suppose it's my fault as much as anyone's. - Steve] Anyway, I am fairly sure I know the way this is going to go, but I do not wish to tempt fate. Melinda thinks she knows the way this is going also, but she will enjoy it and work on the leg-lines. Jessica isn't surprised, and Pavel is going to endeavour to do the lift properly this time.

OMG, Dancing On Ice - Make Me A Star hasn't been forgotten about altogether! Quick VT montage of people doing entertainment ON ICE. They shepherd their acts into a room, and Jayne tells them they don't bite - at which point Chris BARKS. REALLY. Jayne also keeps saying "Chris and I" in the wrong context and it's grating. A four-year-old girl claims to have been skating for six years. Jayne and Chris beam at her, and when she finishes, she sits on Jayne's knee and it is all very sweet. Jayne likes a pretty boy in tight jeans and a vest. Chris tries to get Jayne pole-dancing ON ICE. Seriously, this is dragging on for far too long now. Back at the rink, Chris says they still haven't worked out how old the four-year-old girl is. Jayne didn't like rejecting people and made Chris do it, because he is MEAN AND CRUEL. He made her do one rejection, of a little girl, who wept.

Anyway, it's still not time for the sodding skate-off - there'll be another break first. Law and Order: UK looks awful. Although anything with a character called Alesha must have something going for it. [I saw the first episode; quite liked it. It should've been Sexy Victims Unit, though. - Steve]

Phil welcomes us back AGAIN and we are FINALLY going to see the BASTARD SKATE-OFF. Melinda and Fred go first. Melinda's husband's trendy hair is looking a bit young for him now. They skate. Melinda didn't mind doing it again because she likes the routine, and the other skaters were making Fred laugh. Jess and Pavel go second. (Jess's husband is in the West Indies - not sure if you knew that.) They get the routine right this time. Chris says it was a better performance, as was Melinda's.

Time for the judges' verdicts - Karen is crying, hooray! She saves Jess. Phil ignores Nicky and asks for Jason's choice, but Nicky talks anyway and saves Jess. Jason says it's not a part of the show that requires a personality contest, it's just about technical merit, and thus he saves Jess. Ruthie saves Jess also, and Robin tells Melinda she is delightful, as was her JOURNEY, but he is saving Jess too. As is only right.

Montage of Melinda's highlights, which revolve around Ruthie having a bit of a crush on her. Melinda says she has really enjoyed it, and thanks everyone, especially Lovely Fred.

That's it. Join Steve next Sunday for PROPS WEEK!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Eighties night, and the feeling's right

Show 6: TX 15th February 2009

There are some really ugly sofas in the DFS bumpers, aren't there? [I've just bought a sofa from DFS. Mine's red. - Carrie]

Last week! There were high scores for Jessica, Zoe and Ray, and low blows for Ellery and Todd, and "Tucker's luck" finally ran out, oh dear. This week it's the '80s, a decade which Jayne and Chris assure us was "great", in case anyone was wondering. Then again, any decade in which one wins Olympic gold is probably better than most. There will be the requisite amount of thrills and spills, though fewer of the latter now that Todd's gone. Hopefully.

Phil and Holly have not noticeably dressed for the '80s, much to my disappointment. A mention of Gordon the Gopher from Phil merits cheers, especially when he implies he preferred Gordon to Holly. We begin with a routine from the professionals to 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go', and I love that ice dance fashion really hasn't changed at all in the past 25 years as far as I can tell. Jayne and Chris arrive, and are sadly not re-choreographing their Olympic-winning routine to Wham! Come on, that would've been awesome. Then the celebs come in and do a bit of arm-waving, then they align with their pro partners and skate around fairly tentatively, or at least Roxanne and Melinda do. Ray looks as smugly unchallenged by the routine as ever. And then it is over.

Holly's sounding kind of hoarse tonight. Jayne and Chris skate over to join Holly and Phil, and confirm that it was fun to have everyone skating together. Then Holly flashes her legwarmers, and so does Phil. Phil's are lime green and Holly's are hot pink, in case anyone's wondering. Phil reminds us that this is the 25th anniversary of Jayne and Chris's Olympic-winning ice dance, as though we could possibly have missed that by now, but we get a celebratory VT presumably recycled from yesterday's primetime special that I didn't watch in which various people from the show discuss how epically awesome it was, and it still looks epically awesome even 25 years on. Notably the celebrities commenting on it are people like Coleen and Melinda rather than Zoe and Roxanne, because they're actually old enough to remember it properly. Heh. This is all very lovely, but can we watch some celebrities fall over now, please?

Nope, because Phil is talking to Jayne about the routine's "impact", which took them by surprise when they returned to Nottingham. Chris says that the most enduring image for him was when all the sixes went up on the scoreboard. Last night's documentary got over eight million viewers, apparently. Maybe this will inspire our skating stars, says Phil. Inspired, yes. Improved, I'm not sure.

We go for a look at the required element, but there is a VT fail and all we get to see is a static screen. Oops! Phil confirms that the move does actually require more than that (and I hope Dermot O'Leary is watching this and taking notes, because that's exactly the kind of smooth, professional filling that is so sorely missing from The X Factor these days. Then we get to see the VT properly, and it is a Shadow Spin this week - they have to rotate on one foot in synchronisation with their partner. It is very difficult, says Chris, but everyone has been doing well in rehearsals.

Phil throws to the judges - Karen turns the Absolute Beginners into Top Guns, Nicky as as colourful as a Rubik's Cuke and just as complex (and infinitely more frustrating), Jason is the biggest baddy since JR Ewing (fey wave), Ruthie is sweeter than Parma Violets and Robin is the original Blade Runner. Holly greets the ice panel, and asks Robin what he's hoping for. Robin wants the skating to be fast, controlled and good. That seems like a fairly reasonable request. [I love when Robin manages to make stating the utterly obvious entirely apposite. - Carrie]

Okay, enough of the '80s pop culture references now please, show. Roxanne is on first - she thought her routine last week was her strongest, but she had criticism from the judges. Her routine this week is to 'China In Your Hand', and she's worried that her scores are heading in the wrong direction. So skate better, then. Then she dislocates a rib in training, which Jayne informs us is painful but not incapacitating as far as ice dancing is concerned. Roxanne is determined to skate through the pain like a trooper, she tells us. Roxanne is covered in black lace this week, so why is she not skating to 'Agadoo'? What I assume is the Shadow Spin doesn't look quite right, I don't think Roxanne actually lifted both feet, but I imagine we'll find out in a minute.

Gubba says that Roxy's taken more blows this week than Rocky Balboa, and for one horrifying moment then I thought he was going to make a Chris Brown/Rihanna reference like the un-PC football commentators on South Park, but thankfully not. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.0, Robin 3.0 for a total of 16.0. Roxanne says that she's getting more confident and assertive every week, and she loves it. She adds that in rehearsal the performance was awful, but she was spurred on by the audience and the cameras tonight. Daniel confirms that they altered one of the lifts in light of her injury. Chris says that the spin let Roxanne down, but her performance was good. Nicky says that she was soft in the legs, which is apparently good, and the spin did let her down. Jason criticises her for looking down rather than projecting out in her performance, and says the transitions were awkward - she had some lovely positions, but lacks charisma. "I think he's starting to fall in love with me," says Roxanne.

We return from the ads with Donal, who got surprisingly better last week, I thought. He's skating to 'Addicted To Love', and looking kind of terrifying as he talks about it. To help him improve his pace, he's going speed-skating with some professionals. It seems like Donal has a class of some kind every week. Is he trying to get extra credit? Someone in the audience has a 'Mac The Blade' sign, which as a "Mack the Knife" pun pretty much fails on every level. [Doesn't fail as much as Ray singing it would do. - Carrie] Donal is wearing a white suit, and honestly, the best advice I was ever given was never to trust someone dressed in white. It's served me well, and so I am passing it on to you. You're totally welcome. His spin is better than Roxanne's, though parts of the rest of his routine are a bit stilted still. Scores: Karen 4.0, Nicky 4.0, Jason 3.5, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 3.5 for a total of 18.5 - his best score so far. Donal says that he dropped Florentine previously in a lift, and she was very brave to attempt it this time. Florentine says she is grateful for the judges' comments because they "allow us to work on our skating". I assume Florentine's skating doesn't really need that much work. Chris complements Donal on his improved confidence. Nicky warns Donal that when he goes for more speed, sometimes it was a bit ragged - he needs to sell the entire routine. "Picky, picky, picky!" interrupts Ruthie. Robin curtly informs her that it's good to be picky with someone like Donal because he will actually listen. Team Robin! Robin compliments Donal on his improved speed and performance and looks forward to seeing him next week.

Jessica is next, with her hair piled up on her head like Minnie Mouse ears. What the hell? What follows throws me a little, because we see Chris and Jayne rehearsing with Ellery and Frankie and for a second I think the wrong routine is playing, until Chris explains that during this rehearsal they heard an almighty crash coming from somewhere - Jessica and Pavel had been practising some lifts off the ice, and something clearly went wrong because they are now lying in a heap and Jessica is looking extremely broken. Jayne worries that Pavel is blaming himself for what happened. We are informed that Jessica is in shock, and she explains that she fell on her back. Poor Pavel is looking extremely angry with himself when he receives word on how she's doing. Jessica returns to the ice, but has bruising around her ribs and her confidence is clearly shaken. Some different choreography is worked out to avoid exacerbating her injury, and Jessica hopes this won't affect her too adversely.

They are skating to 'Venus', and Jessica's actually looking more confident and expressive than usual. It's a fun routine and she's very light on her feet, and the skating content is great to watch - especially the bit where she hangs form Pavel's waist and they spin together. Her required element (cross-footed!) looks excellent too. This was the best she's been all series, I think. Scores: Karen 5.0, Nicky 5.0, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 4.5, Robin 4.5 for a total of 23.5. Jessica loved doing it and is just happy she got through it. Phil asks her to explain what happened - Jessica says they usually practise the lifts off the ice before they get on it, but it's a wooden covering on a concrete floor. Pavel says he felt horrible about it and he's so glad she bounced back. "Bounced straight off the floor and onto the ice!" says Phil, a tad tactlessly. Chris says that it's hard when this happens, because he's thinking it's his fault, she's thinking he dropped me - "that's what Jayne says, anyway". Ha! Karen says the routine had everything, and she found the performer in her. Jason nods - this week he felt she sustained the goddess in this number, but there was some choreography that could've been crisper, but apart from that he thought it was beautiful. Jessica is thrilled, as you might expect.

Time for more ads! And afterwards Ellery and Coleen, which doesn't exactly inspire me not to flick over and wait for Lark Rise to Candleford, if I'm honest.

We return and OMG GORDON THE GOPHER! He's sat next to Phil, dressed in ice-friendly white and silver and squeaking away. Phil tells him to shut it. Hee. Coleen was buoyed by positive feedback last week, and is dancing to 'Lady in Red' this week. Bleurgh. Coleen enjoys having a slow dance with Christopher Dean. She's excited to have a chance to do a romantic routine with Stuart, but the problem is they're both gigglers. Stuart complains in rehearsals that Coleen is throttling him. Coleen is hoping to be elegant, and then laughs at the very idea.

Ooh, there's a prop - Stuart drapes a red cape over Coleen at the beginning - she unravels it and it billows behind her like something out of Titanic. Then he takes it off her and discards it, rendering the whole thing a bit pointless. A lot of the routine feels a bit like Coleen hanging off Stuart, to be honest, and some of her footwork is rather stumbly. They don't finish in time with the music, which is something that always annoys me on this show. Her spin was two-footed, to the extent that I didn't even notice it first time around. Scores: Karen 3.0, Nicky 2.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.0, Robin 3.0, Robin 3.0 for a total of 14.5. Phil says the beginning was "Mariah Carey-esque". Coleen says that her husband isn't worried about her crush - "it gets rid of me, doesn't it?" Phil remarks on Stuart's odd ponytail, which I hope to God is fake. Chris and Jayne's feedback degenerates into giggles. "You can't go wrong with a wind machine, can you?" says Ruthie. She says that Coleen's upper body is good, her lower body less so. Holly remarks on this oddity of Nicky giving the lowest score - Nicky doesn't like the tentativeness or the slowness, and he feels Coleen is capable of more. Phil informs us that Coleen mumbled to him, "I'd go faster if I could actually feel my legs." Oh, stop moaning.

Leaderboard: Jessica, Donal, Roxanne, Coleen.

We are reminded that Ellery was in his second skateoff last week (though not that Mad Ruthie opted to save Todd), and now he is determined to up his game. He needs to be more elegant, he decides, so Kyran Bracken is brought in to help train him. Kyran tells us that being a SPORTSMAN (sigh) and being a performer are very different, like we didn't already know.

Oh God, Ellery's routine is to 'Come On Eileen'. Is it just me, or is there something quite Blair Waldorf about Frankie? The routine is a bit dull, to be honest, despite a bit where Ellery lifts Frankie up and she cycles in mid-air. Put it this way: a bit where Frankie lies on the ice and Ellery skates over her merits "whoo!"s. [Even Greg Rusedski managed to jump over Kristina and put her in mild peril. - Carrie] Still, he gets the required element pretty well. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.0, Jason 2.5, Ruthie 3.0, Robin 3.5 for a total of 15.5. Phil thinks the audience thought he deserved more, and Ellery thanks the audience. Ellery is very happy with how it went, and Frankie doesn't think the judges took the quality of Ellery's skating into account. Holly asks Karen if Ellery's done enough to stay out of the skate-off, and Karen hedges. Jason says that while Ellery's turns and mohawks are great, he's reminiscent of Mr Potato Head due to his upper body, or something. I dunno, the audience shouted him down, and I'm getting tired of that little gimmick. I don't care how much of an ass Jason is, that's just disrespectful and uncivilised, and some of us do actually want to hear the judges' feedback, be it positive or otherwise.

Back from the ads, and Melinda and Fred are next. Melinda thought her routine went well last week despite the stumble - she was prepared to be in the skate-off, and was thrilled not to be. They're skating to '99 Red Balloons' (yay!), and never thought she'd be dancing on ice to it. Well, why would you? She starts vamping as they listen to it, and Chris and Jayne decide to integrate them into the choreography. It's her fastest routine so far, and she's got three balloons tied to her, which is proving problematic - though she's glad she hasn't got the full 99, arf arf.

Melinda drops the balloons off fairly quickly and also dispenses with the required element quite quickly, and it's hard to see if she actually lifted her second foot off the ice. There's an impressive rotating plateau lift, but some of the skating looks very muddled to me. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.5, Jason 3.5, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 3.5, for a total of 17.5. Melinda is pleased with that score. Fred apologises for the tumble out of the rotating plateau because he slipped. Chris says it's sad that Melinda's been able to do three or four rotations of that spin normally, while she only did one tonight. Robin says it was one very good spin, but on one foot when it should've been two (I thought it was meant to be one?) [no, he meant one rotation when it should have been two - Carrie] - he saw turnout, and Melinda cheers pre-emptively, but then he adds that it wasn't all the way through. He says that her air positions are some of the best of the ladies, but the skating is toe scratching and not consistent enough - they're waiting for her to pull it all together.

Ray's next, and thankfully his nipples are covered this week, because God knows I couldn't have sat through that again. [Again? You're mad. Or, your dedication to duty is admirable. I simply can't can't can't watch it. - Carrie] Phil reminds us that Ray was only born in 1988, so '80s week is a novel for him. Another reason to hate him, basically. There's a drape lift in this week's routine, which is very difficult. Ray doesn't think he's strong enough, and Maria is worried that there's nothing in it she can do to help him, and they've not done it without assistance yet. I'm sure it will go right in the performance, because they like to pretend Ray's about to fail and he never bloody does.

They're skating to 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now'. The skating is very good, as we've come to expect by now, and it's quite a lovely routine. His solo spin is showy, in a Chris Fountain sort of way. Predictably, the drape lift is absolutely fine. Was there ever any doubt? Scores: 6.0 all round, for a total of 30, and everyone loses their shit. "It was obvious it had to happen soon," says Phil, and sadly that is true. Ray is speechless, mercifully. "I'm glad he wasn't around in the '80s," says Chris. Well, reality TV didn't really exist then, so it would've been much better, wouldn't it? Robin says it's a relief to finally be able to press that button for Ray - it was technically excellent. Ruthie says watching Ray is better than eating chocolate fudge cake [I'd respectfully beg to disagree - Carrie], and the extra 0.5 came from Ray's face. I'd usually consider that reason enough to mark him down, but that's probably why I'm not a judge on this show.

Back from presumably the final ad break, and it's time for our eighth performance - it's Zoe. She scored 22.0 last week, and was thrilled to tie with Jessica. Jayne thinks Zoe may be the dark horse of the contest. Zoe thinks the pressure's on because she wants to stay up the top. However, she injures herself during the group rehearsals - hell, what is it with all the injuries this week? It's another rib job too, and Zoe goes to hospital. She's finding it quite hard to breathe and talk, and Matt's probably enjoying the silence while he can. It's a muscle spasm, most likely, so it's not broken.

They're skating to 'I Think We're Alone Now' (also yay!), and their costumes this week are truly horrendous. They are very cute together, though, and the routine is daring and lots of fun to watch. The required element doesn't look as good as it looked in rehearsals, though - oh, and they've choreographed an actual kiss into it near the end. Bless. Scores: Karen 4.5, Nicky 4.5, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 4.5, Robin 4.0 for a total of 22.0 again - same as last week. Zoe was really nervous tonight, and worried from the beginning. Apparently in rehearsals her hair got caught on her eyelashes and she couldn't see where she was going. Matt says her hair was in his face the entire time anyway, so he couldn't see at all. Jason thought the performance captured the fun and levity of the '80s, but he didn't feel any thrills in the lifts. Karen says it was tight at the beginning, but she got into it - the spin was a bit short, but she thought it was a good performance.

That's everyone, so here's the leaderboard: Ray is top, Jessica is second, Zoe is third, Donal is fourth, Melinda is fifth, Roxanne is sixth, Ellery is seventh, Coleen is last. I'm anticipating an Ellery/Melinda skate-off - anyone else?

The lines are now open, and we flip back through the performances: Roxanne's half-arsed routine that I've already forgotten, Donal's untrustworthy outfit, Jessica's bad hair day, Stuart dragging Coleen around, Ellery being energetic but uninspiring, Melinda's homemade choreography, Ray being nauseatingly perfect and Zoe's insanely backcombed hair.

That's your lot for now - join me at 9.30pm (well, around 10pm, probably) for the results!

The Skate-Off

(Deep voice) Earlier! Eight people danced on ice for your votes. But who's going home?

Phil and Holly return, and the lines are now closed, so do not vote now as it will not be counted but you may still be charged, yada yada yada. Flasback: Roxanne's transitions were iffy and her required element was substandard. Backstage, she doesn't mind being compared to a Cabbage Patch Doll because they're cute, and Daniel frantically tries to assure us that they were listening to the criticism and will be taking it on board. Speaking of which: Donal takes notice, and hopes he will be hear for another week. Jessica's routine was great, and turned into a proper performer. She feels on top of the world, and is especially chuffed with the praise from Jason. Pavel thinks it's the devil's horns on her head. Coleen was tentative where Ruthie would like her to be risky. Coleen enjoyed her wind machine, and Stuart thought the skating was good. Coleen considers it a personal best. Jason called Ellery Mr Potato Head, and 400 people appreciate what he's doing, per Frankie. Let's hope they all vote 100 times each, then. Melinda is inconsistent, Robin reminds us - Fred takes the blame for the problems with the lift, assuring her that it was a "Fred malfunction" rather than a wardrobe malfunction. Ray was better than chocolate fudge cake, per Ruthie, and Ray says he can't ask for more. Well no, because you got top marks. Zoe had levity but not dynamism. Zoe agrees that something was lacking, but promises to bring it back next week.

Holly's back with the judges: unsurprisingly, Ray's performance was the best of the night/series, while Jason didn't enjoy Ellery or Coleen this week. Karen says that Jessica surprised her, but Ray amazed her.

Phil has the results *touches ear*, and the following couples are safe and skating again next week: Ray and Maria, Coleen and Stuart (Coleen looks amazed), Zoe and Matt, Jessica and Pavel and Donal and Florentine, with one couple remaining to be announced after the break, naturellement.

Back from the aforementioned break, and the last couple guaranteed a place in next week's competition is: Roxanne and Daniel. So the skate-off is Ellery and Frankie vs. Melinda and Fred, as I suspected. They've both tackled the skate-off twice previously, so it could go either way.

Holly asks Jayne for tips for Ellery: Jayne thinks Ellery was good tonight, but he needs to up the performance. Chris thinks Melinda needs to nail the spin in order to secure her survival.

First up are Ellery and Frankie. There's a slight stumble as he takes one of the corners, but he's got his biggest grin on. Disaster! He takes a full-on tumble near the end and lands nastily on his shoulder, but he gets back up without missing a beat, which I'm sure will stand well in his favour. Phil asks if he's okay, and Ellery assures us he's fine. Ellery's a bit disappointed that he tripped, but he thinks he recovered well. Jayne says it was a very out of control fall, but congratulates him for getting up again right away.

And here come Melinda and Fred and their 99-96 red balloons. Melinda manages more revolutions of her spin this time, though it's still a little hard to see if her foot leaves the ice. The rotating plateau ends more smoothly this time, and the skating does seem a little better. She manages to grab her balloons at the end as well, which is a lot trickier than I realised when I first saw this routine. Well, my vote would go to Melinda, but of course it's not up to me. Fred says that he likes this number (anything's better than the 'Macarena', right?) and Melinda says she feels it went well. She finds the skate-off scary, despite having done it twice already. Chris says she managed two revolutions on one foot, so well done there.

It's moment of truth time: who will the judges save? Karen votes to save Melinda, and that is that. Nicky votes to save Ellery. Jason votes for Melinda. Ruthie votes for Melinda, so Melinda is safe, and Robin would've saved her anyway. Melinda skates again! She is very pleased and hugs Fred as they skate away, and honestly, who'd pass up an opportunity to hug Lovely Fred?

Ellery is absurdly gracious in defeat and congratulates Melinda on an excellent skate-off - he's honoured to be one of the last three boys standing, and tells everyone else that they thoroughly deserve their places. He apologises for continually talking, and Phil assures him that he still has time (it's a good job I set my PVR to record four minutes beyond the scheduled end of the show this week). Ellery continues by praising Jayne and Chris for their time and commitment to helping the skaters, and then we get his best bits, which involve a lot of good-natured stumbling, a gradual struggle to find that elusive rhythm, learning to tell left from right, and some cute routines and lovely camaraderie with Frankie. At the end of the routine, Ellery thanks Frankie for being lovely and says she will be his "long-life friend forever". Bless. Jayne says he's a pleasure to work with, and she will miss him.

That's pretty much it - Will Young will be on the show next week, Carrie will be recapping, and presumably fleeing the room whenever Ray comes on. I don't blame her.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Flippin' 'eck!

Tx: Sunday 8th February 2009

Last week! Some fought back (Zoe)! Some gave fighting talk (Roxy's good-humoured putdown of Jason's whining)! Some were shut up (the audience booing Jason during Donal's comments)!

This week! "The whole country has been DANCING ON ICE!" according to Phil, and no doubt giving much joy to Nicky "ON ICE" Slater. There have been tears (Coleen) and blood (poor Pavel getting sliced up again) and ooooh what will happen?

Titles!

Here are Holly and Phil - he gives her a kiss, which is oddly adorable, and then steps back and looks like he's about to go all broody over her ever-increasing bump (this week covered in a lovely white chiffony smock). Then they both make puns to introduce this week's filler guest star Bette Midler. Her skirt is too short. She sings From A Distance, and Jayne and Chris do interpretative skating amidst the traditional overload of dry ice. Then Jayne and Chris disappear, which is the divine Miss M's cue to wave her arms round more. Then Jayne and Chris come back and there's a horrible split-screen effect so we can watch everyone all at once. Lovely!

Phil thanks Bette for flying all the way from Vegas to sing, and she says it was wonderful to appear with Torvill and Dean. She would not be caught dead skating herself though. Heh. Phil hauls Jayne and Chris off the ice to find out what has been happening this week - people have missed training (presumably cos of the snow); Chris has been nervous because of skating to Bette Midler (because of course EVERYTHING IS ABOUT HIM). This week's required element is a one-footed change of edge - some people are doing it assisted, some are doing it unassisted (no prizes for guessing who).

Time to welcome our skating stars - Jessica and Pavel (she looks a really, really weird colour); Donal and Florentine (he has too much lipstick on); Roxy and Dan (her nipples are barely covered); Ellery and Frankie (too much neon in these costumes); Zoe and Matt (they look beautiful); Todd (in a tux!) and Susie; Melinda, her fake hair and Lovely Fred; Coleen and Stuart; and Ray and Maria (and ew oh dear God he winks at her as they skate on and I am cringing).

After the break, Jessica attempts to castrate Pavel, just as that mad bitch Mumba did last year, though at least Jess has the grace to look upset about it when she sees the wounds rather than laughing manically; and Roxy screeches for fear of breaking her head.

Break!

Phil makes another ice-related joke, and for fuck's sake, we've not even met the judges yet, have we? Karen is "one of the few teachers who's been busy this week"; Nicky is as "exciting and unpredictable as the British weather", and srsly, what?; Jason blah, Ruthie blah, and Robin is "deep and crisp and even". Oh, for fuck's SAKE - Robin says the show is about DANCING ON ICE and they must all DANCE ON ICE. Don't make me come down there, Cousins. We already have four useless pointless judges, one of whom has the sole talent of reiterating the material upon which the contestants MUST DANCE; we don't need another.

Jess is first on, and Phil hopes her final outcome tonight is more successful than her husband's in the West Indies yesterday. So do I. In rehearsals, Chris takes a tip from the Strictly judges and witters about "Fred and Ginger". Jess is hoisted up onto Pavel's shoulder (she calls him "Pav", which I guess is obvious but still cute for some reason), and when she slips, he stops her from crashing onto the ice but catches her boot on his thigh in the process. Lots of injury porn, with Pavel sitting on a sofa with his trousers round his ankles. Poor Pavel.

They're skating to Cheek to Cheek, it's all lovely and smily, with one little stumble, and the dangerous lift ON ICE doesn't slice Pavel's trousers. Gubba wonders if Fred Astaire ever had his groin slashed. Scores - Karen 4.5, Nicky 4.5, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 4.0, Robin 4.5 for her best score of 22.0. She is happy. They feel like Fred and Ginger. Pavel is not happy about his underwear being shown on national TV. Ha! Jayne thinks Jess has shown how versatile she is. Robin thinks she looks lovely and she did well to stay focused. Ruthie says that this is an improvement from last week but the nerves kicked in. Jess agrees. Bless her.

Donal thinks that his fall last week had a certain musicality. He is wrong. He has absolutely no feeling for the beat at all, and Florentine seems utterly bewildered by his cloth ears. They go along to Pineapple for street dance classes. Donal looks frightened. Florentine looks fierce. They are skating to Black and Gold and I genuinely love Florentine's dress. Donal's kids have a banner saying "Daddy you are MY HERO". Florentine seems to be talking him through what to do, but it certainly looks more rhythmic than ever before. Scores - Karen 3.5, Nicky 4.0, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.0, Robin 3.5, for a total of 17.0. Donal thanks everyone for the opportunity to skate. Florentine is proud of him. Drink! Jason thinks it was better this week and he is glad that Donal went to Pineapple even though it was out of his league. Rude. The musicality was better but now he needs to accent things on different beats. Nicky says Donal is GRATE because he is A MAN and it is HARD TO BE A MAN AND SKATE and WOMEN HAVE IT EASY and thus men should get more marks for EVEN BOTHERING TO COMPETE. Fuckwit.

Break!

Phil welcomes us back. Roxy and Dan are next up. In rehearsal, she is not impressed with the choreography she's been given, for she has to do the headbanger. "It's quite a dangerous move," says Jayne, with impressive understatement. As she and Dan rehearse, Roxy screams, "DAN! DAN!" [I'm a horrible person, but I found that hilarious. - Steve] Then in dress rehearsal, her shoulder is ripped to bits on some jagged ice and proceeds to bleed and weep everywhere (the cut, not Roxy herself).

They skate to Hallelujah (Alexandra Burke version), and it looks quite fluid and lyrical with some good lifts (I'm always surprised when Dan does these as he looks so little), and the headbanger doesn't get going -it looks like Dan can't get her into the air - but everyone emerges unscathed. Scores - Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.0 and Robin 4.0 for a total of 17.0. Dan reveals that Roxy's boot went into his hand wrong so they couldn't bounce the headbanger. Karen says Roxy is brave; Jason is glad that's over and waiting for her performance is like going to the dentist. RUDE. Roxy replies, "Next time you go to the dentist, can they take all your teeth out, please?"

Last week, Ruthie wanted Ellery and Frankie's performance to be less safe. This week, Ellery was excited because he was given Boogie Wonderland to skate to, and he did lots of club moves around the ice. Frankie seems still to have failed to grasp the fact that when Ruthie said they were too "safe", it wasn't about physical danger and risk, it was about performance risk. They have a trick where he throws her into the air, she turns by 180 degrees, and he catches her with arms outstretched. It does not go well in rehearsal but they cannot remove it from the routine and Frankie gets quite cross at the suggestion.

When it comes to the actual routine, the throw ends a bit sloppily, but nobody dies. Ellery's leg lines look clumsy. I wish Frankie wouldn't do her hair in bunches, she's a grown woman. Scores - Karen 3.0, Nicky 4.0, Jason 2.0, Ruthie 2.5, Robin 3.0 for a total of 14.5. Frankie is disappointed because of the technicality of the routine. But she does not point out that technical routines are no use if you are not very good at DANCING them ON ICE. [Oh no, it's affected you too! - Steve] Hey ho, though, Frankie, Nicky's ladling the marks on because Ellery has testicles. Jason interrupts to say that he gave a 2.5, so really it's a 15.0. Then he goes on to rip the whole routine to shreds while Frankie looks daggers at him (and incidentally he mentions the rubbish leg lines).

Zoe and Matt are doing some bizarre mime butterfly routine backstage. In rehearsal this week, Zoe has been fired up and ready to take on three difficult lifts, one of which needs a STRONG (not wobbly) CORE. She can do the actual lifts, but doesn't seem to be able to come out of them. Heh. She says there is so much to think about, but doesn't look that traumatised.

Zoe seems to be wearing the wig Ruthie Henshall wore as Fantine in Les Miserables as they skate to Loving You (with an odd butterfly motif at the start, which explains the backstage mentalism). The lifts all go well, and Zoe is increasingly looking like a possible contender. [Hooray! I really like Zoe, even if no one else does. - Steve] Scores - Karen 4.0, and 4.5s from the rest for a total of 22.0. Zoe says she really enjoyed the routine and beams broadly at everyone. Jayne is pleased with her improvement. Robin says it is lovely to watch her grow and see the partnership grow.

Break!

Oh dear me, my self-appointed nemesis Piers Morgan is interviewing Sharon Osbourne soon. A veritable studio full of ego.

Phil welcomes us back and says Robin gave Roxy a 3.5, not a 4.0. Yeah, right - anyway, that makes her score 16.5, thus ranking her below Donal.

Todd's next up, and he would like to get into double figures. This week, they are skating to Smile, and Chris wants to move him away from comedy. That sounds like a rather ambitious aim. Karen barks at him throughout practice, and he does manage to skate by himself for a bit.

The routine begins - and seriously, this is dreadful - not from a skating perspective, even though that is awful, obviously - but because he is hamming it up to a horrific degree. The audience are laughing. And this is really starting to piss me off for exactly the same reasons as John Sergeant pissed me off - if you want to be in the competition, fucking take it seriously, otherwise fuck the fuck off. Scores - Karen 2.0, Nicky 2.0 and 1.5s from the others, making it 8.5. Susie says his skating is getting better; Todd is grateful to be here; Chris says everyone is enjoying their time with Todd. Even Karen can't think of nice things to say. Jason says the performance was endearing, but the solo was stationary. Then he gives up and puts his head in his hands.

Last week Melinda was in the skate-off because she was hamstrung with the horrible Macarena routine. She couldn't get to the rink on Monday because she was snowed in. Fred seems quite pissed off all through Tuesday's practice. The Saturdays come to help her rehearse because they are skating to Up. Fred looks much happier then. When Melinda VTs, he just gazes into space. I am concerned for Fred's wellbeing. I might tweet @schofe later.

Melinda too has taken a wig from Ruthie Henshall's old Les Mis kitbag. There's a stumble right at the start, and that seems to put her off for the rest of the routine, as does her occasional habit of swallowing a big chunk of fake hair. Gubba leers over her and makes excuses for her. Scores - 3.5s from Karen, Nicky and Ruthie and 3.0s from Jason and Robin for a total of 16.5. Melinda is upset because it all went wrong, but Fred is proud of her nonetheless. Drink! Jayne says she always comes back fighting and has a great attitude. Holly looks all sad for poor Melinda. Nicky witters a bit, and says she needs to relax more. Ruthie says it wasn't Melinda's best week and she must work on her leg lines.

Phil gives us the opportunity to be at Dancing on Ice next week! No thanks, I'm off to the Whatsonstage Awards for my birthday to schmooze with Sheridan Smith, yay!

Break! Torvill and Dean documentary soon!

Next up is Coleen, who really wants to push herself this week. There is doom-laden incidental music, and sure enough we have Coleen's trials of self-doubt, culminating in tears - "I CAN'T GET IT!" and copious amounts of self-pitying whinging. Bissix is sitting at home going, "Well, quit then, you complaining old tart." [Bissix is not alone in this. - Steve]

They are skating to Can't Fight The Moonlight. I miss Adam Garcia. He should be in more things. Anyway, there's a few incidences of hideous literal choreography, and a lift where a nasty camera angle gives us a perfect view of Coleen's undercarriage. Coleen seems to be much slower across the ice than everyone else, but there is no falling over, and she doesn't cry, so that's a result. Scores - 3.0s from everyone except Ruthie, who gives a 3.5, for a total of 15.5. Phil laughs about knowing her much better now, and asks how close she was to quitting. She reckons she was very close, and she doesn't ever cry normally. Then she does a horse impression because she has a fake ponytail. Jayne sympathises because the show is very emotionally draining. Ruthie is all congratulatory - and then says she is starting to earn her place, as if Dancing on Ice is some sort of institution with stiff entry requirements. [Ruthie is quite the stealth bitch, it would seem. - Steve] Robin says Coleen will not be doing big tricks but she doesn't need to. Coleen looks a bit upset and says she MIGHT do the headbanger so NER.

Ray's next. I cannot watch it. Sorry. Truly, I am. His nipples are on display. It's just cruel and unusual punishment.

Scores for Ray and Maria - 5.0s from Karen and Nicky and 5.5s for the rest, so I guess it was pretty good. Karen is happy. Jason says Ray DANCES ON ICE. I throw a brick through my television, meaning I cannot watch any more of this but presumably I don't miss much - just a look at the leaderboard, where Ray and Maria are top and Todd and Susie are bottom, and a recap.

I'm off to buy a new television quickly. Back later for the results.

The skate-off

Television duly installed. Earlier tonight, these nine couples danced ON ICE for our votes, and now one is going to be lined up against a wall and shot! It's time for the skate-off!

Titles!

Phil and Holly return. The lines are now CLOSED, and it's time for the unseen HOT BACKSTAGE ACTION! Jess thinks she managed to cover the stumble; Pavel didn't notice. I am increasingly loving Pavel. Donal says, "We've improved week on week!" Well, you might have. Fairly sure Florentine was decent to start with. Roxy says she switched off when Jason was talking because it was like listening to an old woman at the bingo. [I'm not especially moved by Roxy's skating, but I do enjoy her trash talk. - Steve] Ellery thought that Frankie should have changed a light-bulb because he threw her so high; Frankie thought Ellery was a disco diva. OK THEN. Zoe is amazed to be equal with Jess. Matt dimples but does not get to speak. The drinks are on Todd. Susie just looks a bit fed up. Melinda says it wasn't her best week, and she was better in rehearsal. Fred also looks fed up. Coleen gave it her best shot but says she can't stop her legs from shaking. Stuart says she can't do anything better than her best. Ray says...words.

Final words from the judges - Nicky thinks the required elements shows competence in basic skating, and congratulates Ray and Jess, but thinks everyone needs to work on their skating. He does not want to see too many lifts. Holly nods and says, "Skating is key," which is so asinine I don't know what to say. [That she forgot to mention the importance of dancing ON ICE? - Steve] She then asks Jason who is beginning to outstay their welcome. "Apart from me, you mean?" he replies. He eventually selects Ellery, for his lack of improvement.

Phil touches his ear, for it is time for the results. In no particular order, the couples skating next week - Roxy and Dan; Ray and Maria; Melinda and Fred; Jess and Pavel; Donal and Florentine; Zoe and Matt - and thus there are three couples left, so the final safe couple will obviously be revealed AFTER THE BREAK.

Phil welcomes us back, and it's down to the final three - Ellery and Frankie, Todd and Susie, Coleen and Stuart. The seventh couple safe and skating next week - Coleen and Stuart! She is happy and pretends she is crying. Todd gurns a bit. Susie smiles through gritted teeth. [The voters on this show are clearly less idiotic than the voters on Strictly, thank God. - Steve]

Jayne says that Ellery needs to relax and listen to the music and find the disco diva within him. Holly asks Chris what Todd should do. Everyone laughs. It seems as if Christopher Dean is, for once, lost for words. He eventually drags up, "Sell it." Is that not what he tried to do earlier? Singularly unsuccessfully?

Ellery and Frankie go first. That throw thing looks horrible. I think Ellery looks quite ungainly but in terms of skating he doesn't really look like he's going to fall or anything. He says that he finds it hard to find rhythm; Frankie says it was better than the first time, and Jayne concurs.

Todd and Susie are second. Phil laughs introducing them. Watching Todd skate out, I really think he's not as technically bad as he pretends. There's certainly nothing stopping him from straightening his arms, but of course that wouldn't make him look so wobbly. (Not in his CORE.) Todd is pleased he didn't fall, and wasn't surprised that he was in the bottom two. Susie smiles through gritted teeth some more.

Time for the verdict. Karen says it wasn't a skate-off but a chance to enjoy Todd for the last time, and saves Ellery. Nicky says Ellery had soul, and saves him. Jason saves Ellery with no comment. Ruthie is judging from a performance point of view and saves Todd. [And thus crosses the line into COMPLETELY useless. Idiot woman. - Steve] Robin says that from a performance point of view, yes, it was that close, but from a skating point of view there was no contest, and saves Ellery.

Phil tells Todd he has been fabulous, and then it is time for a montage - Todd falling over, Todd pulling Christopher Dean over, Todd doing a spiral, Todd skating off the rink, Todd belly-flopping onto the ice. A glorious tenure, that's for sure. Todd thanks everyone who voted for him and who supported him in the studio, and Susie, and his family, whom he loves. Susie says she has had a brilliant time. I think she is fibbing. Chris says Todd has been great entertainment. Phil asks them to take their bouquets and do their lap of honour - "God knows what will happen now."

Next week! Shoulderpads, sequins - "and that's just me!" says Phil. Not really, it's Eighties week and a Bolero celebration! Join Steve then!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Under(wood) and out

Show 4: TX 1st February 2009

Last week! Ray Quim was declared the best dancer on ice in the history of forever (bleurgh), while Todd skated right off the rink, fell over, and in the process gave Phil his new favourite moment from his entire time on the show, and Kurt Benson went back to Chester to have another look for Rob Hawthorne's body (we never saw it! He could still be alive!). Tonight there are new moves (cue: Melinda and Fred doing the macarena) and surprises in store (two more Nolans than usual). We end with Ellery doing an off-camera faceplant as the admirable Frankie grimaces on camera. Is it just me, or is she so much more likeable now she's not partnered with Chris Fountain?

Titles. Phil is looking dapper as anything in a shiny silver suit, and Holly is giving it some old-school glamour with the cleavage mostly masked by black dress with a sort of lacey, flowery thing going on over the boobs and her arms. Phil says that the paramedics had to be called after Todd's routine last week, because 12 million viewers split their sides laughing. Heh.

Holly tells us that we have a treat before the actual show gets going and I think I know what this means: bugger, Chris is recovered and back to join Jayne on the ice. It's not nearly as much fun as it was when she was being all kinds of fierce with her harem of dancing boys. Carrie's prediction from last week seems to be bearing fruit as they skate up and over the judges' desk (which is currently minus judges). It's a good routine and everything, but it's no solo Jayne. Not that I wish permanent shoulder injury on Christopher Dean or anything. I'm not that horrible. Chris openly admits to having hated not being able to dance with Jayne over the past couple of weeks; Jayne tries to pretend she feels the same. Apparently the celeb routines will be harder this week, and the required element will be a pairs spiral: y'know, where they skate on one leg with the other raised behind them, above the knee and with the foot turned out. Yeah, Todd's attempt at this is going to be interesting. Jayne tells us that it requires balance, and they can't be supported by their partner because the partners will be doing it too.

Here come the skaters: Melinda and Fred (she's covered in orange ruffles, oh dear), Zoe and Matt, Ellery and Frankie (and Ellery doesn't really seem to know what he's doing as they pose for the crowd, and Frankie's "bitch, don't show me up" face is a joy to behold), Coleen and Stuart, Donal and Florentine (he's wearing sparkly pinstriped clown trouseres), Michael and Melanie, "Emmerdale darling" (wut) Roxanne and Daniel, Todd and Susie (he can barely stand up, as you'd expect) and OH MY SHITTING CHRIST WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO JESSICA? Her costume looks bad enough when you see it in motion and it's this huge hippy mess of yellow and orange and hot pink, and then you see her face and she's wearing so much make up she can hardly open her eyes. Bloody hell. She must've really upset some folks in make-up and wardrobe.

The judges are introduced, with a family theme: Karen is "like a big sister" (presumably the one who always came into your room in floods of tears every time she got dumped by her boyfriend), Nicky is "loved like a brother", Jason "is not the sort person to keep mum", Ruthie is apparently always "on good relations with everyone", a statement which is given the lie by a small contingent of the audience booing her, which makes me laugh, and "the daddy on the ice", Robin. Robin tells Holly that he's not convinced they're all strong enough to become great skaters, but they can all be convincing and give great performances.

Phil reminds us that the judges' scores will be combined with our votes, though does not specify how, and I'm surprised they can get away with being that vague considering the amount of scrutiny the Strictly vote system was under at the end of last year, but I suppose there is no licence fee payers' money being spent here, nor is there a general witch hunt against ITV like there is against the BBC, so I shall put this grievance to one side and move on.

Melinda and Fred are up first: Melinda says she didn't feel "gut-wretchingly sick" last week, which was progress. Lovely Fred is apparently not keen on 'Macarena', which will be their soundtrack this week. Melinda consoles him by reminding him that at least it's not 'The Birdie Song'. Chris says it's a crowd-pleasing piece, and this is borne out by the other skaters at the practice rink all joining in with it. Melinda says if she can have that kind of effect in the live show, she'll be laughing. Fred, meanwhile, is still all "the Macarena? SERIOUSLY?" I love Fred. [Poor Fred. He tries to be professional about it, but his horror cannot truly be disguised. - Carrie]

I must say, despite what I said when she was in the dance-off against Dame Clare Devine, I think the quality of Melinda's skating has definitely improved over the past couple of weeks - there's still something slightly reticent about her, but she's a lot more fluid than she was. She gives it a moderate amount of sass, and pulls off her spiral easily enough. There's a random lift at the end which is a little bit messy, but looks pretty good. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.0, Jason 3.5, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 3.0 for a total of 16.5. Melinda thought a few things could've gone better, like the lift at the end, but wonders if she's supposed to admit to that. Fred frets that his Macarena may not have been strong enough, heh. Chris says there were hiccups, but Melinda is getting better because they're not holding her up. Robin agrees that it could've been better, and tells Melinda to let her legs work how her upper body works. Jason thinks 'Macarena' is one of the worst things to have to perform to and feels sorry for Melinda being lumbered with it, but he thinks her performance was good. With regard to the lift, Melinda is not helping Fred "get up", apparently. Ooer. Apparently she needs to work on her core, like pretty much everyone does at this point. [Wobbly core! Drink! - Carrie]

Back from the ads, and we're with Ray and Maria. I'm going to attempt a Bitching On Ice first tonight, and watch the whole routine without running from the room wailing with my hands over my eyes. Honestly, the things I do for you people. [Mr Perkins, you're a braver bitch than me. I locked myself in the bathroom. - Carrie] We flash back to Ray being BEST EVARZ last week. Ray has 'Smooth Criminal' as his song for this week, and proceeds to "delight" us with a Michael Jackson impression. Well, it's not like he'd need to add any extra creepy into his everyday persona to pull it off, is it? Ray falls over a lot in rehearsals, and does a Zoe in the dress rehearsal by taking a tumble on the ice. Ahhhh, that's satisfying. Ray hopes it will all be all right on the night, like.

The routine opens with a moonwalk on ice skates, and if this were anybody else, I'd probably be quite impressed, but it's Ray, so already I'm just wishing the damn thing was over. Ray does a sprawly kind of jump and fumbles it a little bit, though sadly not enough to wipe out entirely. His pair spiral is predictably showy: as well as lifting up and balancing on one leg, he pivots and then does it going backwards. Show-off. "Ray Quinn is Michael Jackson on ice," says Gubba, and if that potential concept for a show doesn't qualify as Nightmare Fuel, I'm not sure what does. Scores: 5.0 from everyone except Jason who gives 4.0, for a total of 24.0. Ray thinks the nerves got the better of him, and he says he was fighting his body to get back to that "cool, calm state". Apparently his problem is that he's a perfectionist. I wonder how he reconciles that with his face? Chris says the routine was very hard, and it was a fantastic performance, and it's just Ray's creepy manchild head that gets in the way. I may have editorialised there slightly. Nicky thinks Ray has the potential to be the best skater ever in the history of the show, despite having said last week that he already was. He commends Ray's spirals, but wants to see him going up a gear. Jason thinks this wasn't Ray's best week, and he didn't think this was his choreographic style. Jason thought it was "too polite for me, and not convincing". As a human being, presumably.

Time for Zoe to leap into action. Because she's Zoe Salmon, geddit? Matt tells us that there's been a pattern with Zoe's nerves every week - she starts off calm, but turns into a basket case as the live show approaches. We flash back to her wiping out in last week's dress, and in an attempt to conquer her nerves, Zoe goes to a hypnotherapist in Harley Street, who will be teaching her a relaxation technique she can use on her own, and also to get on her hands on knees and recite the Gettysburg Address every time she hears the word "biscuit". Zoe and Matt are skating to Katy Perry's 'Hot 'n' Cold', a song which I like despite myself. Matt's face throughout is hilarious; he is giving it attitude with a capital A. Zoe's a little stiff to get in with and some of her footwork is still a bit floppy, but she's definitely enjoying herself this week. She is being lifted an awful lot this week, mind, and there are sections which don't seem to be as fast as they should be, but the ending where she wraps her ankles around Matt's neck and remains airborne by sheer force of will is right up there with that time on Strictly Come Dancing when Matt whirled Flavia around by the vagina. The routine ends, and Matt is still doing Blue Steel. I have a bit of a crush on Matt, but shhhh, don't tell anyone. Oh, and Konnie Huq is in the audience! Gubba tells us that Zoe adopted a penguin at London Zoo as a Christmas present for Matt. I adopted my boyfriend a seal for Christmas, I had no idea I was being so fashionable.

Scores are in: Karen 4.0, Nicky 3.5, Jason 4.0, Ruthie 4.5, Robin 4.0 for a total of 20. Zoe feels more confident now and is pleased to have got better marks because it means she's improving. She feels less nervous, thanks to the hypnotherapy. Matt says "we're starting to change, and that's all I can ask." HA! Call me, Matt! Holly throws to Ruthie, who thinks Zoe has recovered her confidence, and she's a fighter who came out fighting, but she needs to work on her fluidity. Nicky congratulates her on the attack, but she tends to arch her back and go straight on her legs, which would throw her balance off, so he tells her to work on that. Phil pretends to hypnotise Zoe into not arching her back. Oh, Phil. You're such a dork, but we love you anyway.

Ellery and Frankie are up next. Frankie thinks Ellery really came together under pressure, and Chris says that Ellery has to show he's stronger to avoid the skateoff again. They're going to include a drape lift this week for extra showmanship, which requires Ellery to lift Frankie up in the air and balance both their weights on "one inch of blade", per Frankie. This does not go well in rehearsals and Frankie seems sceptical that Ellery will not drop her and break her neck. "If he doesn't focus, I'm going to fall down ten feet and really hurt myself," says Frankie - and then in the bit we saw earlier, there's a crash off-camera as we pan over to Ellery flat on the floor. "I'm a little bit concerned that he might do that on the night," deadpans Frankie.

They're skating to 'With Or Without You', and Ellery's input is minimal at first, though even doing a turn on one knee causes him to wobble and slip. He pulls off the pair spiral, and mercifully the drape lift does not result in Frankie plummeting to her doom. That's pretty much all we can ask for, right? Frankie does a "yeah, you did it, big man!" face to him afterwards. Heh. I bet she really doesn't want to be in the skate-off. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 2.5, Robin 3.5 for a total of 16.0. The audience does not approve. Ellery was happy with the lift, and says he felt much more comfortable this week. Frankie said she felt safe, and is glad he was lifting her rather than the other way around. Heh. Chris wants him to be more reckless on the ice, and Frankie's all "...yay?" Karen tells Ellery he tends to rush his basic skating, so they need to work on that, while Ruthie says she wants to see more of Ellery's personality because the performance was too safe. "Safe?" repeats Holly incredulously, and Ruthie eye-rolls that the performance was safe, and I'll thank you not to take that patronising tone of voice with me, young lady. Frankie quite likes safe, it seems.

After another break for some ads, it's time for Coleen and Stuart. Coleen improved last week because she was enjoying herself, and we see the moment where her music for this week is revealed to her: 'I'm In The Mood For Dancing' by the Nolan Sisters. Chris quizzes an oblivious Coleen about the original choreography while her sisters Linda and Official Best Nolan Bernie sneak up to surprise her. Coleen is squeakily overjoyed, and Linda tells how they run up huge phone bills (unless they have some kind of friends and family package) by teleconferencing the show when they can't all get together to watch Coleen. Coleen is excited about dancing to this song, as well she might be. The beginning of the routine seems a little too faithful to the original choreography, since it's awfully static, but it eventually gets going. Coleen manages her pairs spiral, and a hoover, but the problem I'm having with her is the way she plays to the crowd every time she actually pulls off a move. It's really distracting; I'm sure she's very happy not to have fallen over, but can't she contain herself for a few minutes until the routine's actually finished?

Gubba informs us that Coleen is the first celebrity ever on the show to dance to her own song, released 30 years ago when she was 14. [Well, first released 30 years ago when she was 14 and not in the Nolans. They've re-released it every couple of years since then, and she joined officially in the mid-80s after Ann left. I looked all this up earlier. I didn't actually know it. - Carrie] Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.0, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 3.0 for a total of 16.0. Coleen said it felt very strange, and never thought she'd be skating to that song in a tutu. Jayne thinks Coleen is getting more confident every week. Jason tells Coleen her leglines were better this week, but her hoover was laboured, like she was maimed and Stuart was helping her out. He wants the transitions to be smoother and surprise them. Karen shakes her head and thinks we should not take away the massive achievement. Jason says that's all good and well (sic), but she needs constructive criticism. "She gets that every day!" replies Karen, indignantly. Fight! Fight! Fight!

Leaderboard: Ray and Maria at the top, Zoe and Matt second, Melinda and Fred third, and Coleen and Stuart and Ellery and Frankie tying for fourth.

Who's next? Why, it's undercover reporter Donal MacIntyre. Donal thinks that Nicky's criticism last week, regarding his lack of presentation, was wholly accurate - he's not used to milking the limelight, being an undercover reporter and all. This is despite the fact that he's more of a presenter than an undercover reporter these days, since most people know his face. Florentine has been harder on him this week and is determined to bring out some kind of presentation genius. [She looks like Minnie Driver but less hexagonal. - Carrie] Donal then gets a Presentation Training Montage, and seems to be getting marginally better.

Clown Pants and Florentine are skating to 'Everybody Needs Somebody', and it looks like quite a tricky routine for a relative novice, with lots of quick footwork. Midway through Donal becomes the first celebrity of the series to take a tumble (on camera, anyway) but gets up again impressively quickly. The presentation was a little better, I think. He was certainly giving it a good go, anyway. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 4.5 (oh dear), Jason 2.5, Ruthie 2.5 (apparently slipping is only okay when Zoe does it) and Robin 3.0 for a total of 16.0. Phil congratulates Donal for getting straight back up. Donal says the judges were right last week, and "most of them were right this week". HA! Chris says that Donal goes for broke, and should be applauded for pushing himself so hard. Nicky says that it was like a different man when Donal started moving, and he thought it was great, and a transformation from last week. [And also argues that he awarded extra marks for the recovery after falling. Oh, Nicky. You get more ludicrous week by week. - Carrie] Jason disagrees: he thought there was no musicality, and he's still ahead of his partner. He says that Donal was at a ballet class for tiny tots last week, which was "pathetic tokenism" (the sort of thing this show is normally so clearly above, amirite?) and he danced like a tiny tot this week. He is, by the way, almost drowned out throughout by a lot of booing from the audience. Phil congratulates the audience for succeeding in shouting down Jason, and the audience lap it up.

Returning from the break, Phil has his hand over Jason's mouth. I'd be careful, Phil, you don't know where he's been. Michael and Mel are back, and Michael is learning that he has to stop arsing about and be serious about it all if he's to be a better skater. In a rehearsal hours before the show, Michael trips and falls on top of Mel. She is apparently fine (albeit seeing the physio), but Michael's confidence has taken a knock. Angellica Bell is in the audience to cheer him on. They are dancing to 'Kiss' - Michael's skating seems to have improved this week, and he manages the lift wherein he previously dropped Melanie without another tumble - likewise the pair spiral. Wait - Gubba tells us that Angellica is Michael's girlfriend - holy crap, I would not have guessed that. [Srsly? My sister texted me last week to tell me she didn't know they were together, and I thought it was common knowledge. Hey ho. - Carrie] Scores: 4.0 from Karen and Nicky, 3.5 from everyone else for a total of 18.5, which is Michael's best score. Mel assures Phil that she is fine - she fell on her knee, but it's working. Michael says it was a silly mistake, and it won't happen again. Jayne says it was the cleanest performance she's seen him give. Karen tells Michael he's been improving all week - she wants him to be the same on the show as he is in training. Robin warns Michael against switching feet in the middle of the lift, because that's what caused him to fall, and he did it again tonight, but thankfully his strong core (not WOBBLY) stopped him from falling.

Roxanne and Daniel are next, and were pleased to be fourth last week. This week's routine, however, is far more complicated. The cartwheel lift in particular is proving problematic, and her legs are getting too far apart. Daniel advises her to keep her legs together - sound advice for all of us, really. They're skating to 'Sweet About Me', a song that I am possibly alone in still liking. Roxanne still grimaces a bit unattractively sometimes while skating, but she does seem to pull this routine off reasonably well - the spiral has a slight wobble, though it seems to come more from Daniel pushing down on her waist. Scores: 3.5 from Karen, 4.0 from Nicky, 3.0 from Jason, 3.0 from Ruthie and 3.5 from Robin for a total of 17.0. Roxanne says that she felt like she was in a washing machine during the fairground lift, and asks Daniel if her legs were together during the cartwheel - he assures her she was perfect. Jayne says people like Roxanne are what this show is about, because she's improved since the beginning. We go to the judges, and Nicky says that the men can't hide because they have to skate for themselves from the beginning, whereas the women can hide to some extent (and I'm sure some people will be outraged by this, but I'm running late as it is, so I'll let it be) and he's impressed with her skating. [O NOEZ! POOR TEH MEN! It is so difficult to LEAD! Women are just fake ho0rs and have natural innate girly skating ability! Fucking hell, just fuck the fuck off already, Nicky. - Carrie] Jason thought it started out promisingly, and it had nice moments - but her problem is that her nice moments do not add up to a completely impressive programme yet. Jason tells her she needs to work on her core stability - "I'm trying! Give us a break!" is Roxanne's response. It's just goodnatured enough to not sound unpleasantly petulant, though obviously Jason gets all Captain Pissypants about it.

Back from the ads once more, and flippin' 'eck Tucker, it's Todd Carty. Todd recounts his spectacular fuckup from last week, where he apparently caught his toepick. Todd's skating skills are not up to par, says Chris in the understatement of the series, so they're playing up to his character acting skills instead. Oh, joy. Susie points out that Todd's actually done the spiral in both of his routines so far, and it is pretty much his signature move. I'd forgotten about that. Of course, before he could lean on Susie for support. They're skating to 'Every Breath You Take', and the whole routine is ridiculously pantomimed to the lyrics. [Literal choreography makes me want to poke people in the ears with cocktail sticks. - Carrie] Todd manages the pair spiral without falling, but it's all downhill from there really. Honestly, I don't even know what the fuck is going on half the time, but I'm pretty much dying from secondhand embarrassment here. Gubba tells us there were a million hits on YouTube for last week's performance. Scores: Karen 2.0, Nicky 2.0, Jason 1.0, Ruthie 1.0, Robin 1.5, for a total of 7.5. Todd is just happy to be here, etc. Chris tries to explain the choreography, but really, there can be no explanation, can there?

Holly throws to Robin for his opinion, and Robin can only make a noise of anguish. He explains that he got 0.5 each for the lunge, the spiral, and not falling over. Karen says that there's not much skating to mark, but what's there is entertaining. Phil explains that the star of The Bill was dancing to the Police, which I missed. Well played.

Finally, Jessica and Pavel - we relive her being told she's not animated enough, or whatever, which I guess is what the scary drag queen make-up this week is in aid of. Jessica wheels out that old reality TV staple of "just because I was in a pop band doesn't mean I can dance!" and insists she's just been blagging her way through it. Jayne says that Jessica needs to feel the music in her whole body, and Jessica says she will shake what her mother gave her. She's dancing to 'Groove Is In The Heart', and oh, so THAT's what that costume's all about. It's the most entertaining routine of the night, with a decent amount of showmanship, and the second most impressive pair spiral after Ray's. Scores: Karen 4.5, Nicky 5.0, Jason 4.0, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 4.5 for a total of 21.5. Jessica says that she stumbled at the beginning due to nerves, but she loved it. Pavel says it was so great to watch the "transformance", [robots in disguise - Carrie] and Chris says it's the best performance quality we've seen from her. Holly asks Ruthie what gives, and Ruthie says that while Jessica has raised her game, it was inconsistent as far as she was concerned. Nicky loved the rhythm, and sees this as worthy of a 5.0 for this stage in the competition. I'm still not sure whether we're grading on a curve or what, to be honest.

The end! Leaderboard: Ray, Jessica, Zoe, Michael, Roxanne, Melinda, Ellery and Coleen and Donal in joint seventh, and Todd in tenth. Phil reminds us that our votes can change the order, and the lines are now open. We recap: Fred cringing through Melinda's Macarena, Ray summoning the Mastodon in order to form the Megazord, Zoe and Matt with their Attitude Faces, Ellery not killing Frankie, Coleen making DANCING ON ICE HISTORY, Donal's sparkly clown pants, Michael's new improved core, Roxanne's vaguely boring routine, Todd staying upright despite all the odds, and Jessica's costume from hell.

The crowd go nuts, and Phil and Holly remind us of the voting numbers. Join us later for the skate-off!

The Skate-Off

Earlier tonight, ten couples danced ON ICE for your votes, but as far as one of them is concerned, 'tall will have been for naught. The lines are now closed, Phil informs us. Soon we shall find out who is skating for survival, but first here's a chance to catch up with the excitement onstage and backstage.

Melinda's lift was stuttery, and not a great performance, and she thinks Robin's comments were fair - she thinks she did a decent performance, and they both enjoyed it. Ray didn't have his best week, and it didn't convince Jason. Ray thinks he needs to stop letting his head take over. He also thinks Jason was fair. Zoe got her confidence back, and she does it for Ruthie (ooer). Zoe was overwhelmed with the score and comments. Matt whoops, but does not get to speak actual words. Ruthie was not impressed with Ellery, and Ellery thinks it was important to be safe given what the routine involved (which isn't what Ruthie was saying, but whatever) and Frankie tartly informs the cameras that we can talk about this once Ruthie's been hoiked up ten feet in the air. [If Ellery and Frankie (and Holly for that matter) genuinely think that Ruthie was criticising physical safety rather than not taking enough risks performance-wise they deserve to be beaten over the head with an Olivier award. - Carrie] Coleen seems to think she performed the song live on ice as opposed to just dancing to it. Donal's timing was all over the place, even if the audience didn't want to hear it. Donal is proud of himself for picking himself up after the fall. Michael needs to watch his footwork but is improving, and Melanie was thrilled with the score. Roxanne's "nice moments" did not make a coherent whole - she would like to get out there and get rapturous praise, but accepts it may never happen. Todd left Robin at a loss for words, and explains how Susie told him to "calm down, calm down" beforehand, to which Susie replies "I'm a Geordie, not a Scouser!" Hee. Jessica is pleased the judges thought they raised her game ("Heaps more!" interjects Pavel) and she's really enjoying herself.

Robin says that Todd surprised him by actually getting the required element right, even if nothing else, but he thinks Zoe had the complete package. Ruthie agrees that Zoe conquered her demons. Jason didn't enjoy everyone's performances, and thinks the evening was flat. Karen thinks Coleen shone, and nobody cares what Nicky thinks. Hee!

The scores are in, and Phil is about to be given the results *indicates but does not actually touch ear*: the safe couples are Donal and Florentine, Jessica and Pavel, Zoe and Matt, Ray and Maria, Roxanne and Daniel, Ellery and Frankie (Frankie looks hugely pleased not to have to do that routine again), Todd and Susie and...somebody who will be revealed after the break, of course. I suppose I should applaud the contestants for at least trying to look like they're surprised by this turn of events, even when it happens every week.

After the ads, Phil reveals that the final couple safe for this week is...Coleen and Stuart, which leaves Melinda/Lovely Fred and Michael/Melanie in the skate-off. Wow, that's quite a plummet for Michael from fourth place. Ouch.

Jayne advises Melinda to control the spiral and be careful on that last lift, and Chris says that Michael needs to get in the right frame of mind to recreate his performance from earlier.

Melinda and Lovely Fred are up first, and poor Fred has to do the Macarena again. Melinda looks a touch more animated this time, and even Fred seems to be having fun with the hated routine. The skating's still a touch leaden where Melinda's concerned, and the lift is a lot neater (if possibly a bit slower) this time. Melinda is pleased to have got the lift right - it's scary to be in the skateoff, but she thinks it worked. Fred is concerned that he has to skate against his wife. Jayne thinks Melinda couldn't have tried any harder.

Michael and Mel return to the ice and their routine seems to be of a similarly high standard - I think they had less to improve on compared to Melinda, but there are no obvious fuckups that I can see, so I'll be interested to see how the judges vote. Michael slips skating back over to see Phil, but Phil assures him that bit doesn't count. Michael thinks that being in the skateoff just makes you feel like you have to go for it and have fun, in case it's your last chance. Chris says that Michael is in the zone. Mel is no happier to be skating against Fred than he was to be skating against her. Time for the judges to vote.

Karen says it's very tough, but votes to save Michael. Nicky thinks one celebrity did more, and votes to save Michael. Jason thinks neither of them deserves to be in the bottom two, and votes for Melinda, since she stepped it up this week. Ruthie agrees with Jason and wants to save the one with more sparkle, and picks Melinda. Robin thinks neither one was perfect, but one person stepped up two whole levels in the skateoff, and saves Melinda. I'm not going to lie, that was pretty tense.

Melinda hugs Lovely Fred as Michael is dragged over to see Phil, no doubt inwardly cursing his inability to last more than three participating episodes per series. We see Michael's best bits, including a fair share of tumbles and his infamous wobbly core. Michael says he's had a brilliant time and was glad to come back. Mel is very proud of Michael, and says he was courageous to come back and do it again. And my PVR cut off at this point - I doubt I missed anything terribly pivotal, but I'm sure Carrie will fill you in if necessary. [Nope, that's about it - but join us next week when Torvill and Dean's prop will be MISS BETTE MIDLER, singing live from the rink! - Carrie]