Sunday, 22 March 2009

Apocalypse now

The FINAL. ON ICE
Tx: 22nd March, 2009

Last week! Donal, Jess and Ray progressed into the final! Coleen finally fucked off! It's the end of a ten-week journey (and just so you know, that is not the only time we will hear that word this evening). We have been amazed (by Ray, apparently) and entertained (by Todd, apparently). This week! Fucking stupid flying. This is not ON ICE. Ray is attached to an oxygen mask. Everyone learns Bolero, but only two couples get to skate it. Yawn.

Titles!

Voiceover man sounds like he's on diazepam, and welcomes us to Dancing on Ice. Torvill and Dean skate quasi-Bolero on their miniature rink amidst much dry ice, accompanied by random orchestra. Jayne seems to be wearing giant white knickers. I'd have opted for purple, myself.

Here are Phil and Holly, who is ridiculously pregnant now and has to adjust her dress after moving her arms as her breasts are escaping. Chris claims that it is emotional to skate Bolero 25 years on. Phil claims THIS is the moment we've been waiting for, after ten thrilling weeks of competition. Thrilling? Really? Have I missed something? [I'll tell you what I've been missing - series three. Sigh. - Steve] Anyway, Phil and Holly helpfully remind us of the way the voting works, and then we see Jayne and Chris demonstrating this week's pointless and shit required element - flying. I've complained about this before; no need for me to go through it again. Suffice to say, it's the only time I ever agree with Nicky Slater.

We welcome our finalists - Donal and Florentine; Jessica and Pavel; and Ray and Maria. Everyone waves. The crowd chant for Donal. Srsly?

First ad break!

Phil welcomes us back, and it is time to meet the Ice Panel. Karen looks lovely. I have missed her weeping this series. Evidently she's cared as little about the contestants as we have. Nicky is in a tux. Jason is camping it up madly. Ruthie's changed her make-up. Robin has a horrid shirt but he is still Head Judge Robin Cousins, thus I forgive him. Then my forgiveness is removed when he mentions "journey" twice in the space of two sentences. Oh, Robin. Don't make me put you on my List, along with all your fellow judges.

Donal is first to skate - last week he had to skate off against Coleen, and it has taken ages for it to sink in that he's in the final. This week he's practically blinded everyone near him as he attempts to somersault NOT ON ICE. Chris and Jayne mock his leg positions as looking like it's from Riverdance. Donal reminds us just how macho he is - he grunts and grinds; he's not about grace and elegance.

They're skating to Rocket Man (at which I snort with barely suppressed derision). Flo looks very pretty in her red sparkly dress, though she seems to struggle slightly when she has to haul Donal around (albeit not as much as Frankie struggled with Chris "the pie man" Fountain last year). Gubba mentions a "journey". Scores - Karen 5.0, Nicky 4.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 6.0, Robin 5.0 for a total of 23.5. I wonder if Ruthie pressed the wrong button again. Everyone looks stunned. Donal says he owes so much to Florentine, Jayne and Chris, and will apply to Nasa forthwith. Flo says he was like Peter Pan. Jayne admires his control on wires. Jason says, "We KNOW how much Ruthie likes to dish out a 6.0!" And then Ruthie in an instant makes herself the most superfluous judge on this stupid show packed full of superfluous judges by saying, "I wasn't expecting you to be as graceful as you are!" So fundamentally she thought he'd be worse than he was, so he gets full marks. Jason calls him Ricket Man, sluggish, heavy, and other things we can't hear because the crowd go mental. Robin says he has done a lot of flying with blokes, and I laugh a lot. He then says Donal is the best male flier we have had on the show, and Jason continues to mutter sotto voce.

Time for Jessica. She cannot believe she's in the final. She is scared of heights, but thinks being on a wire is like being a fairy. She starts crying in rehearsal when she finds out she'll be flying to One Moment In Time, and does not know what's wrong with her. She fears not keeping up with the computer-programmed routine and being left behind.

Jess also has a very pretty dress, white and sparkly. She does lots of big sweepy cross-rink flying, and finishes with a rather laboured somersault sequence into a big spin. Scores - Karen 5.5, Nicky 5.0, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 5.0, Robin 5.5 for a total of 25.5. Phil says he is glad Jess is in the final because the routine was so beautiful. Jess says she didn't care about the fear of heights because it was so much fun. Pav is very enthusiastic and encouraging in his usual way. Holly wishes it had been her up there. Unlikely, Holl, you'd probably break the bloody wires at your current weight. Karen says inane words. Jason says she emoted throughout, but her arms were stiff.

Oh, dear. Ray squeaks about the prospect of flying, and then squeaks while in the harness. Jayne says he was very keen, but then started looking a funny colour. He looks like he's about to pass out, and they have to give him oxygen. Chris wails about him getting less rehearsal time than the others. Ray whines about trying his best and not being able to hack it. Ah well. Fuck off then.

Ray and Maria skate to The Greatest Day and there are some HORRIBLE moves where it looks like they are going to KISS and it is just WRONG because a) she's old enough to be his mother and b) Ray Quinn shouldn't kiss people. Scores - straight sixes. Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off. Jayne says he deserves them, Chris blahs. Nicky says, "Competition, Ray Quinn, bring it on" and then starts doing that thing I'd almost forgotten he did, where he poses rhetorical questions and then ANSWERS THEM HIMSELF. He also says "ice". Ruthie says it was like Baryshnikov in the air. FUCK OFF. She also says he can sing, which is patently untrue. Kids, I don't want to get cross with Ruthie Henshall, because the woman is a goddess, but she is making it very difficult. [Come over to the dark side. It's nice here, we have cake. - Steve]

Time for a short recap, and then Phil and Holly urge us to vote, vote, VOTE for the two stars we want to skate Bolero. Can we have Torvill and Dean again?

Break!

Phil reminds us that Donal has come a VERY LONG WAY (presumably on a journey). Donal VTs that Jayne and Chris were his zimmer-frame support when he started, and the toughest thing has been learning to be a performer. He has lost 40 pounds (or maybe £40? In a bet with someone, maybe?). His most tender moment was Everybody Hurts as it was when he and Flo realised they were on a "journey" together. He wants to make his last skate the best it can be, so that his children and wife are proud of him. Anyway, Donal and Flo reprise Everybody Hurts. Everyone cheers. Gubba talks about Donal's rippling back muscles and Ireland's week of celebrations. Scores - 5.0s all along the board apart from Ruthie, who gives 5.5 for a total of 25.5. Donal mentions his special journey again. He talks about skating, dance and choreography, and one of his kids shouts, "I LOVE YOU, DADDY!" which is adorable, and everyone awws. Karen talks about his journey twice. Ruthie says that he has a lovely heart which shines through. What? I mean, what? Donal takes a tip from Chris's book and kisses his partner's hair several times.

Jess has loved every minute of Dancing on Ice. I'm guessing that doesn't include the bit where she clanged to the concrete floor and cried. She loves Pav, which is reasonable. Then she goes off on an Alesha tangent to talk about how much she loves the dresses and feeling like a princess. She says her family and friends have been there every week with banners and posters. Except for her husband, who's in the West Indies, but she seems to be overlooking that. They skate Mercy again, and I heart Jess's faces in this. Scores - 5.5s from Karen and Nicky, 5.0s from the rest for a total of 26.0. Jess says it means the world to her to be in the final. Pav is wearing a wedding ring. I have never noticed that before. Perhaps he felt left out what with Jess's massive amounts of fourth-finger bling. Nicky talks about "a big strong guy and a beautiful lady" and I vomit. Jason likes the coolness of the choreography but thinks there's no wow factor. Jess attempts to bitch back.

Phil introduces Ray's retrospective VT with double JOURNEY excitement. Ray says words. I do not listen. My ears prick up momentarily when we learn that Chris approached Ray and said, "You've been practising those Russian split jumps - do you want to do one of them?" This is not, of course, the way it was portrayed the other week, when we were led to believe Ray was shown some footage on a laptop at the rink, was astounded, and then picked it up straight away. Oh, shite, they're skating to Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now, and Ray has his arms out. Ew. Gubba says the routine is one minute and 25 seconds of pure skating pleasure. One minute 25? It seemed like longer. Straight sixes. Fuck off. Ray says he is speechless and then continues to witter. Fuck off, fuck off. Robin talks about all the little things Ray does that people at home won't notice. Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off, FUCK OFF.

Phil and Holly attempt to throw to the break amidst chaos in the studio as the audience continue to chant for Donal.

Break!

Phil tells us someone's JOURNEY is about to end, and the phone lines have closed. Holly introduces the winners of Ice Star - the Oxford Freestylers. It is quite easy to mock these boys, so I do for a bit, particularly when Chris sticks his nose in and starts choreographing a madly gay routine for them. Steve and I can't work out how these boys set up their urban skating collective. "Hey! Let's not drink cheap cider and hang out in a park this weekend! Let's do acrobatic ice-skating instead!" The little one talks about their journey. You learn quickly, moppet. And then they start skating, and this is actually the most compelling thing I've seen on this bloody show all evening, if not all series. Some of Chris's choreography doesn't really work, but perhaps they'll take that out before the tour. I like the urban posing, and when the blond one does high fives with all the celebs and pros. They're like Blazin' Squad ON ICE.

All the finalists are in the Bolero outfits and standing on the red carpet, and it's time to find out who'll actually get to skate...and Phil touches his ear, all the better to announce Ray's progression. SIGH. And the second couple - Donal and Florentine. Jess is devastated. It is NOT a good day for Mr and Mrs Pietersen. Pav hugs her, and Phil attempts to comfort her, but she is weeping and is desperately trying to compose herself. Wisely, Phil throws straight to the montage, featuring Jess in an amazing variety of bizarre costumes. Back at the rink, Holly looks like she is racking her brains for something helpful to say, and Jess sobs that she wanted to skate it for her mum on Mothers' Day. Pav cuddles Jess and brings the mood up again by saying they will be skating on the tour which will be BRILLIANT. Bless his little Czech heart.

Break!

Phil welcomes us back, and prepares us for the Bolero-fest to follow. Donal and Flo go first, and they are backstage looking very srs. In rehearsal, Donal appears to have never seen Jayne and Chris's Bolero ever before in his life, but then claims it is a dream come true to skate the ultimate love story. And then he talks about his journey from hard man to show man. There is a big clatter to the floor in rehearsal and Donal immediately shouts, "ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?" to Flo, with genuine concern and panic, which endears him to me a bit. I feel relatively fond of him at the moment anyway, simply because he's not Ray. They skate, and I am struck with the observation that Flo has a very beautiful back. Is that weird? The ending is a bit lame, with a couple of roly-polys (polies?), but Gubba likes it because it is an amazing end to Donal's amazing journey. Honestly, that word is beginning to lose all meaning.

Donal says that the judges' scores don't matter, and he never thought he'd be lost in a dance, and if bankers have knighthoods, then so should Jayne and Chris. Except Jayne would get a damehood, one would think. Then Donal mentions his journey, as does Robin, who then proceeds to talk utter garbled drivel of the type usually spouted by Nicky Slater.

Ray and Maria are ready backstage, and he keeps touching her waist. Ew. In rehearsal, they watch Jayne and Chris's Bolero on the omnipresent laptop, and Ray keeps saying things like, "Ooh, I like that." I'm sure they're delighted to get his approval. Ray wants to do the splits, just like Chris. They begin, and Ray strokes Maria's face. I have to leave the room to be very ill. By the time I get back, it's finished, and Gubba is telling me it was almost as good as the gold-medal-winning performance. I am unconvinced. Ray talks through his nose about it being a privilege to skate Bolero. Chris says both versions of the dance have been fantastic, and he got a lump watching Ray. EW. Nicky is not surprised by what he saw, and then interlinks unrelated sentence fragments.

While we are given more time to vote for our winner, it's time to welcome back the fallen - Graeme and Kristina, who are adorable; Jeremy, who is a bit gross, and Darya, who is pretty but gets hauled across the rink by her partner; Michael, who was a nonentity for two series running, and lovely Mel; bloody Todd, who I'm sure isn't as bad at skating as he's pretending to be, and poor Susie; Ellery and Frankie; Melinda, who's clearly been practising until her feet bleed, and Lovely Fred; tedious Roxanne and Dan; Steve's beloved Zoe and beloved Lovely Matt [swoon - Steve]; and Coleen and Stuart, who I'd tried to forget about. No Bissix due to an injury, which means no my Andrei either. This sodding final is such a bloody swizz.

Time for another filler VT telling us that Torvill and Dean are good at skating. I miss the weeks when Chris was off sick and sulked while Jayne took to the rink and proved herself awesome. We get a reminder of the gayest opening routine EVAH (tm), which is nice, and the saucy little look Chris gave Jayne before Save The Last Dance. Applause! Holly hails them as geniuses, and they wave and bow, and Chris does the forehead kiss. Bless.

And there's time for one more ad break before we finally find out who the winner is...

...and we're back on the red carpet. Donal says he is giggling at the fact that he's in the final. We get a VT of him wrestling Chris to the floor in homoerotic fashion, and many, many falls. And then the journey, obviously. Ray reckons he didn't expect to be in the final. Like HELL he didn't. VT of him lusting after his lycra outfits, training in a minging vest, and trying to kneecap Maria.

But there can only be one winner. And the Dancing on Ice champion for 2009 is -

RAY QUINN.

Ray FUCKING Quinn.

Yes, British public, you have voted for Ray fucking Quinn as your Dancing on Ice champion. The smug, plastic, nasal-voiced, punchable-faced, pseudo-swing child. You have prolonged his career. You may as well have personally offered him that contract as Danny in Grease. You have singlehandedly kept him in the public eye. When Baby Ballroom gets another series, or he's the guest mentor on The X-Factor for a week, or he releases another album, I hope you realise you'll have that on your conscience. I don't know how you can sleep at night. I know I shan't, because the apocalypse must surely be nigh.

Meanwhile, just as 2008's Strictly didn't have a victor and Alesha still reigns supreme, as far as I'm concerned this year's Dancing on Ice did not happen. It's been the most uninspiring of the lot, and may as well have been taken off the air a fortnight in. Thus Suzanne Shaw retains her crown - congratulations to her.

In a bid to lift our spirits, Steve and I watched the gayest opening routine EVAH (tm) and the Christmas special, complete with Chris Fountain's bitchface, immediately after the close of this show, which made us feel a bit better. We're also relieved that now we have a break of several months before having to recap the no-hopers on The X-Factor, and a bit longer before the usual C-listers are wheeled out into the ballroom. (Though incidentally if you're interested, we'll be talking about The Apprentice, and I'll be gossiping about the West End and Broadway. Plug over.) (Oh, except that if you've enjoyed the bitching and are looking for reassurance that the world isn't a terrible place really after tonight's debacle, you could always sponsor me to run a half-marathon and help me raise money for the Alzheimer's Society. Plug REALLY over now.)

I'm off to have a lie-down and silent weep. Thanks for your company this series. See you soon. ON ICE. [JOURNEY. - Steve]

Sunday, 15 March 2009

By my actions you should know I'm going solo

Semi-final
TX: 15th March 2009


Last week: Ray did a splits jump that redefined the very idea of skating as we know it! Coleen improved marginally! Zoe did not, and went home, taking approximately 80% of my interest in this year's competition - not to mention Lovely Matt - with her!

This week: everyone is surprised/amazed/excited to be in the semi-final. Coleen is in agony, Donal is trying something difficult, Ray is smug, and Jessica was probably in attendance somewhere.

The show opens with Girls Aloud SUSPENDED OVER THE RINK ON WIRES OMG. Now that's how you start a show, folks. They're singing their new single 'Untouchable', which is one of the best songs on Out Of Control, and as they descend to the ice, they are accompanied by Jayne and Chris doing a routine which is embarrassingly trendy at first, but then becomes amazing. This is, incidentally, the best Girls Aloud have sounded singing live on telly in ages, possibly because Cheryl doesn't actually get to do very much and most of the heavy lifting is left to Nicola and Sarah (who is on point, for once). Wait, I'm supposed to be talking about dancing ON ICE, aren't I? Sorry, Nicky. Anyway, the skating's finished and now Cheryl's singing again, so my interest is diminishing slightly. OH HELL YES: JAYNE IS SUSPENDED ON WIRES AND CHRIS IS DANGLING FROM HER. Fuck, that was amazing. And it explains why they disappeared mid-song. Seriously, there were all those reports of Girls Aloud planning a spectacular performance for this show, and boy did they ever.

Here are Holly and Phil - Holly is sounding hoarse again this week, and Phil is looking very dapper. Phil congratulates Cheryl and Kimberley for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Jayne and Chris skate over to see Holly and Phil, and Chris wonders how he's going to get his breath back. Phil fills us in on this week's required element in order to make time for that to happen: it's a solo spot, which means that the stars have to skate out of the tunnel by themselves and perform at least the first 20 seconds of the routine all alone. It's a test of nerve, apparently. Whatever, it doesn't really seem as daunting as some of the other required elements, though I suppose if you're Coleen you may feel slightly differently. Holly says that 20 seconds feels like a long time, and Jayne agrees: she says the skaters were nervous at first, then they got used to it, but the nerves hit again when the audience started to arrive. Chris says that there's a training frenzy taking place, and everyone's begging for ice time.

Time to welcome the skating stars: Donal and Florentine, resplendent in blue, then Ray and Maria in bright red and OH MY GOD NIPPLES DO NOT WANT. Then Coleen and Stuart in purple and finally Jessica and Pavel in virginal white. The audience are chanting like mad people for Donal. Quite how he became the folk hero of this series, I have no idea. And here are the ice panel: Karen looking confused, Nicky who is apparently "as quick on the uptake as he was on the ice" (you could've fooled me) [unless he is very very slow as a skater. He only seems to whinge about his blades not being right and all his partners quitting after two shows these days, no mention of speed - Carrie], Jason and his heart of stone, Ruthie who knows all about PERFORMANCE, and Head Judge Robin who's in charge of this bunch of losers. Robin explains the solo spot, saying that the skaters need to be confident and assured and able to deliver the steps without their partner while looking like both a star and a finalist. So, no pressure then.

Time for a filler VT: Ruthie says that anybody who says they don't want to win is lying. Nicky says there's more to lose this close to the final. Karen says it's a battle because everyone feels they deserve to be there. Donal never thought he'd make the semi-final and would love to make the final. Robin thinks Donal is the dark horse. Karen would be thrilled if he makes it through because he's put in so many hours. Coleen says that Donal wants it really bad (ooer) and has improved so much. Donal thinks Coleen has such courage. Coleen says she's going to fight as hard as she can. Jason thinks Coleen is a weak link. Nicky believes that Coleen could win because anything is possible. Coleen predicts the other three for the final. Robin says Jessica has been strong in her skating since week one. Jessica thinks that to get to the final would be - wait for it - amazing. Ray thinks she is technically superb. Ruthie thinks Jess is fearless. Jess thinks Ray's her biggest competition. Ray thinks the competition is getting tighter and there's no room for mistakes now. Karen thinks Ray's biggest competition is himself, and he needs to fight those inner demons (LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL) to bring out a perfect performance. Donal thinks Ray is a god (don't give him ideas, Donal). Ray hopes to earn his place in the final. Nicky says that everyone has to skate as though it's their last time and give it everything. ON ICE, naturally.

Back in the studio, Phil describes the scoring process vaguely as is the norm on this show, and then it's time for some ads. Exciting, no?

Back from the ads, 18 minutes into the show, and it is FINALLY TIME FOR SOMEONE TO SKATE, namely Donal. He's shocked and surprised to be in the semi-finals - in fact he was pleased to make it to week two, which was the greatest of his expectations. He's terrified at the idea of having to skate out by himself, and considers it the scariest thing he's had to do all series. Donal says that Florentine has always been there to protect him. Awww. Chris says that it's a routine of two halves - it starts off slow, and then it gets fast. Fair enough. Donal says to be in the final would be a dream come true, as he'd love all his hard work to pay off.

Donal skates out by himself, and will be skating to 'Live And Let Die'. "DO-NAL! DO-NAL! DO-NAL!" chants the audience, as though he has an interesting personality or something. Donal starts off leaning on the judges' table, like we haven't seen enough of that already, and then skates off to the centre of the rink and waves his arms about a bit before getting moving. There are spins and jumps, though the first part of the routine looks rather sluggish until Florentine comes out to join him. The editing job that has been done on the song is particularly poor this week. [Particularly the fact that there's a key change that they omit, so the last chord just sounds bizarre. - Carrie] Hmmm, I would say that was about 30% of an exciting performance, but only the middle bit. I could've taken or left the rest, really. Gubba calls it "like James Bond meets Mills and Boon", oh dear. Scores: Karen 4.5, Nicky 4.5, Jason 3.5, Ruthie 5.0, Robin 5.0 fo a total of 22.5.

Phil asks Donal why, as an investigative journalist, he is scared of skating in front of a crier, a loon, a bitch, a diva and an actual person qualified to be here. Donal says that it is terrifying, but Florentine has been a rock for him. He hopes it's good enough to get him through. Florentine says she is very proud of him for skating 45 seconds by himself, and he also choreographed their final lift. Chris says that Donal has an amazing story, and that they would never have thought he would've come this far.

Holly's with the judges: Robin thought the intensity was great - it was rough around the edges on the fast part but the slow part was lovely. Robin thinks Donal has put in the most and truly deserves to be here. Jason says that this is the semi-final, and what their partnership proves is that they mask a multitude of sins that the solo work exposes - Donal's arms were like a flailing gibbon and he lacked finesse. Jason didn't think this was Donal's best work, or indeed a semi-final worthy performance. Ruthie interrupts that Donal is a worthy finalist, as though anybody cares what she thinks. The audience booed Jason throughout his entire critique, by the way. Seriously, they've all lost it completely.

Phil tells us that Ray Quim is in search of passion after the break, and if there's a sudden drop in viewing figures at this point, I think we'll all know why.

Back from the ads, and Phil is in the audience with Zoe and Lovely Matt, who are not getting a chance to speak, sadly. "DONAL!" shouts somebody. Good God. After a promo for tickets to the final, it's time for Ray. We relive his split jump from last week, and Ray says he can smell the final, and he just has to go out and fight for it. Ray has a Latin number for this week, and apparently he has done Latin and ballroom dancing all his life, so he is on familiar territory. Ray says that it's all about passion (barf), so he and Maria go to the Sadler's Wells Flamenco festival to look for it, possibly under a seat or maybe in the lost property. Apparently "passion" requires Ray to look even more smug than usual, and I didn't think that was possible.

Ray skates out by himself, looking oily and smug. His routine is to 'Bailamos', and Maria stands in the tunnel leering at him during his solo spot. It's all very odd. Obviously the routine is technically brilliant and incredibly assured blahblahblah. It is also Ray Quim, and therefore near-impossible to watch without a bottle of Pepto-Bismol at hand. I wouldn't be surprised if that's another 30. Only one way to find out, I guess. Score: Karen 5.5, Nicky 6.0, Jason 5.5, Ruthie 5.5, Robin 5.5 for a total of 28.0. Well, that's a relief. Ray tells Phil he's been trying to get out of the zone. Because he is a COMMITTED PERFORMER. Apparently Maria felt the passion while they were out there. Poor Maria. Jayne says that they never think he can get better, and yet he always does.

Holly asks Nicky if his score is a "six on legs" (groan), and Nicky says that they captured the feeling of the dance, and he looks at Ray as he looks at a top ice-dancer. Karen says that every routine from Ray is potentially a six, and that he feels every movement. And then this bit is SO AMAZING: there is a silence while Karen gives Nicky A Look, and Nicky starts giggling, then Karen ROLLS HER EYES and tries to continue, only for Nicky to add a bit more to his entrance essay for the Ray Quinn fan club and Karen shuts him right down and says "you've said your bit, I'm going to say mine now." OWNAGE. That was so brilliant I had to rewind it and watch it again. She continues that it wasn't perfect, there were a few mistakes, but next time it will be perfect. [I was surprised she didn't give him extra marks for the potential of it being perfect in the future. - Carrie] Phil reminds us to vote for Ray when the lines open later in the show. Yeah, no thanks.

Back from the ads, and it's Coleen's turn. Jason was happy with her last week, and thus Coleen was thrilled with him. We see Coleen preparing for flying because that's what everyone's been doing this week to prepare for the final. It looks fun, but apparently Coleen has hurt her back doing it. She is taken to hospital, again, but luckily she has no broken bones. [All this bloody fuss Coleen's making, and she's not even broken anything yet. Suzanne, I seem to recall, broke ribs and her ankle last year, and didn't whine and demand easier required elements. - Carrie] The DoI physio, who's had more screentime this series than Graeme Le Saux, examines Coleen and tries to remove the muscle spasm from around her rib. We are told it could be 50/50 for Coleen, which would be suspenseful if we didn't already know she was fit to skate this week. Coleen says she wants to go out and skate again. She has a couple more spasms during a practice while Sharon the DoI physio watches intently. Coleen gets the all-clear for the show, and is excited because she desperately wants to skate.

She's skating to 'You're Still The One', and even her skate onto the ice is kind of wobbly. Her solo spot is very basic and incredibly slow, and even when Stuart arrives [after about five seconds - Carrie] she's still making a fair few basic errors. It's a bit of a step back from last week, if I'm honest. Coleen's routines do seem to be the same moves every week, pretty much. A hoover here, a spiral there. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 3.5, Jason 3.0, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 3.0 for a total of 16.5. Coleen says that she wasn't worried about the scores this week, she just wanted to come out and skate. She adds that this was her wedding song, and she wanted to do it for her husband, who is blubbing in the audience. Stuart gets emotional and says that they've had a rough couple of weeks, and he knows how much this meant to her. Jayne says that there was a time when they thought it was all over, and Coleen has such courage to get back on the ice.

Nicky says that Coleen is not doing as much as the other skaters - his heart applauds her, but his head says it's time for her to go, and the only thing keeping her in right now is the John Sergeant factor. Oh good, I'm glad it's now got a name, because it really needed further legitimising. Jason says that Coleen is popular, but this is the semi-final and people need to go through based on what they can do on the ice. He thinks it was her most boring performance because it's the same stuff all over again.

And finally: the consistent Jessica. She says that waiting on her own in the tunnel and skating out for 30 seconds without Pavel will be terrifying. Jayne says that they've invented a move for Jessica where one leg is behind Pavel's shoulder and the other is behind his hips, so she'll need to be very flexible. Jessica says she just has to drop her inhibitions and go for it at this point. She would like to get to the final, as it would be a dream come true.

Her routine is to 'Why' by Annie Lennox, and her solo spot is very plaintive. I think I spotted a very slight wobble near the beginning, but it wasn't anything major. The emotional intensity of this routine is very impressive even if it isn't the most exciting one she's ever done. It actually gets quite moving at the end. Awww, that was lovely. Scores: Karen 5.0, Nicky 5.0, Jason 5.5, Ruthie 5.5, Robin 5.5 for a total of 26.5 - her best score yet. Jessica says the solo spot is the most terrifying thing she's ever done. Pavel is very proud of her. Chris says that Jessica has really got things together, and this was her best performance. Ruthie says it was a beautiful performance oozing emotion, and she thinks Jessica has just booked a place in the final. Robin thinks it was very classy, but her appeal isn't in the big tricks - her basics are as strong in places, if not stronger, than Ray's. Wow, they really are going all out to make it look like Jessica has any chance whatsoever of beating him, aren't they? [As you know, I tend to have to leave the room when Ray is on screen, but would have LOVED to have seen his face when Robin says that. And let us desperately remind ourselves that the frontrunner tends not to win Dancing on Ice. - Carrie]

Final leaderboard: Ray at the top, Jessica second, Donal third and Coleen fourth. As with pretty much any week this year, you could've predicted the order without even watching the show. [Which I did when working out the skate-off contenders this afternoon. - Carrie]

The lines open, and the chanting for Donal starts again. Honestly, I kind of want him to go home this week just so I don't have to sit through that next week as well. Video recap: Donal's 30% good routine, Ray's Latino pasiĆ³n, Coleen waving her arms about, and Jessica emoting at Pavel.

Phil reads out the numbers one last time, and that's it now until the skate-off at 9.15pm. Join us back here later for that!

The Skate-Off

Earlier! These four couples danced ON ICE for our votes, but by the end of the show one of them will be gone for good - you know the drill.

Phil welcomes us back as the lines are about to close. And then...the lines close. Whew! Drama! Holly invites us to catch up with tonight's drama both on and off the ice.

Donal's solo skating was criticised by Jason for its lack of finesse. Backstage: Donal says that if he's playing James Bond, he expects there to be a villain in the ranks, and that villain is Jason. He's just happy to be here, etc. Ray skated, and Nicky got a little bit overexcited. Ray really enjoyed the routine, and hopes it's enough to get him through to the final. Coleen skated to her wedding song, and Jason found it boring. Backstage, Coleen says she knew it wasn't going to be the best routine of her life, but she just wanted to get out there and do it for the people who'd voted for her, and her family. Jessica's basics were praised by Robin as being potentially better than Ray's, and Ruthie thought she "oozed emotion" and had booked a place in the final. Jessica really wants to be in the final and Pavel thinks she deserves it.

Holly's with the judges, and she asks Robin whose solo work stood out tonight: Robin singles out Ray's solo work for praise, but says that the pair work let him down (interesting, since we didn't hear that earlier - though I'm sure if he had tried to say it Nicky would've launched himself across the table and tried to wash Robin's mouth out with soap). Holly asks Jason who has worked hardest for a place in the final, and Jason replies "the ice panel". Nice try, Jason. However, he considers it roundly as says that there are two very excellent skaters who should go through, and one skater who shouldn't go through. Someone shouts something from the audience, but I can't make out what it is.

Phil has the results *touches ear* and the audience go nuts again. [Did he actually touch his ear? I didn't see it and was upset. - Carrie] In no particular order, the first couple safe and skating into the final is...to be revealed after the break. Oh, Phil, you tease.

The ads are over, and we're back awaiting the results. Phil reminds us that only two couples are safe, while the others face the skate-off. In no particular order, the first couple through is - and seriously, this is the longest, most milked pause I have ever seen on a reality show - Jessica and Pavel! Good for them, they deserve it. Jessica is thrilled, obviously, and Pavel's rather chuffed too. And the second couple safe is...Ray and Maria, obviously. And wow, did he ever not appreciate being made to wait for that. The look on his face while he was waiting, he was about to cut a bitch.

So Donal and Coleen are set to face each other in the skate-off, and Coleen's clearly going home. Backstage with Holly, Donal is grateful to have got this far, but he wants to make the final and dance the Bolero. Coleen is sick with nerves at facing the skate-off, but she considers the fact that she got this far a victory in itself.

Of course, before we have any of that, there's that bloody Search For An Ice Star thing. The final four, lest anyone has forgotten (and everyone almost certainly has, because seriously, is anyone paying attention to this bit unless they have to recap it?), are Hannah and Daniel, Nick Rigby, the Oxford Freestylers, and the Elody. They have a new routine to perform, and Jayne reminds us that the winners will perform at the final and on the tour. For the final part of the contest, they must perform in the studio in front of an invited audience. Jayne says that they need to be wowed by the performances. Everyone tells the camera that it means an awful lot to them to get through. First out is Nick, who is a strong skater but needs more dancing ON ICE in his routine. His routine to 'SexyBack' is very showy and impressive and involves a lot of spinning. Hannah and Daniel are next, and were coached by Karen in rehearsals. Their routine is to 'Reach' and is impressively assured for a couple of kids. The Elody are on next, and have been working with a voice coach on their stamina so that they can skate and sing at the same time. Their performance is obviously more sing-y than skate-y, and I question the logic of them even being here in the first place. And finally the Oxford Freestylers are on, and work with the DoI assistant coach Mark Naylor to add some structure to their routine. Their performance is still rather scrappy around the edges but looks like it would've been the most fun to watch. Now they sit around and wait to see who gets through. Oh, drag it out a bit longer, why don't you. Anyway, time to reveal the result, and the winning act is: the Oxford Freestylers. Woo. Can we get back to the show now, please? [The only noteworthy thing in this section was that Jayne appeared to be dressed as Holly. - Carrie]

Yes we can! Oh, but the Freestylers are in the studio. Phil asks them if they expected to get this far, and the answer is "no, but we're excited". Chris liked their enthusiasm and effort.

Apparently Donal and Coleen are waiting to see which of them gets through to the final, or something? Yeah, I'd forgotten about it in all the excitement too, but of course there's another ad break to get through first.

Back in the studio, and the audience are chanting "COL-LEEN! COL-LEEN! COL-LEEN!" No, just kidding, they're all chanting for Donal. Seriously, cut it out. Anyway, Donal arrives on the ice and does his dull solo bit again, and then Florentine joins him, and then it is over. I can't really get more enthused about it. The audience can, though. DO-NAL! DO-NAL! DO-NAL! Chris thinks it was better than the first time, and Florentine is impressed by what Donal can do by himself, hurr hurr hurr.

Coleen returns to the ice, and looks rather liberated by the fact that she's almost certainly going home tonight, and as a result she performs the routine much better this time around. I mean, it's still a criminally boring routine, but it's a criminally boring routine performed with gusto, which makes it slightly more bearable. Afterwards Coleen says she's had a really great time. Phil asks her if she thinks she's done enough, because she's not out of the competition yet. "Oh, I'm so out," Coleen replies. "We don't even need to waste time, to be honest. Just bring on the flowers!" Heh.

They return to the ice - except Coleen skates back on with Donal and Stuart skates back on with Florentine. Returning to the ice: UR DOIN IT WRONG. Karen says she'll miss Coleen and votes to save Donal. Nicky saves Donal. Jason saves Donal. Coleen saves Donal. And Robin makes it a clean sweep. They're all very nice about Coleen, save for Jason, who isn't especially nasty. Coleen gets her flowers, and Phil offers to show us her best bits. "Were there any?" Coleen replies.

Well, they do involve a lot of falling, and some fairly samey routines, but hey, she's been here long enough to merit a fairly lengthy tribute, which is an achievement in itself. Back in the studio, Coleen pretends that this is the best thing she has ever done, and thanks the coaches and her new BFF Stuart, as well as Chris and Jayne. Jayne says they'll be sorry to see her go, and Chris says it's been a treat to work with her every week. Coleen goes off for her lap of honour.

Next week is the final, where Carrie will have to recap THREE Ray Quinn routines, most likely. Hahahahahaha. [You are fucking kidding me. It's so not going to happen. - Carrie] See you then!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Zoe says her long goodbyes...

Tx 8th March 2009

Last week! It was the gayest show ever! EVER! This week! The skaters must jump! Coleen will fall over! This! Is! Dancing on Ice!

Titles!

Phil is wearing a ridiculously shiny suit. Holly introduces "two of the best skating stars in the world", and I half-think they are going to have special guests because they're usually so (rightly) hyperbolic, but no, it's Torvill and Dean. They skate to Save The Last Dance For Me. Srsly, you're not telling me that skating is easier for girls. Jayne is awesome.

This week, there will be unassisted jumps, as I've already told you. Here are our contestants - Jess and Pavel; Donal and Florentine; Zoe and Matt; Coleen and Stuart; and that Scouse gimp and Maria.

And the Ice Panel - Karen, Nicky, Jason BOOOOOOOOOOOO, Ruthie and Head Judge Robin Cousins (Holly says, "He's got more medals than I've had hot dinners, and I'm eating for two" - chortle). Robin says that the element is important, but so are sharp, dynamic performances. YES. DO THIS, PLZ, SKATERZ.

Phil says he has been mean to Jason and he would like to apologise - to Ruthie, who has to sit next to him. Not to Nicky, though, you'll note.

Break! This bloody show.

Phil welcomes us back, and tells us that Jess is going for the tabletop lift tonight. She VTs that being in the quarter-finals of Dancing on Ice is the best thing ever, ever. We are reminded that Jess had a big clunking fall a few weeks ago and she is a bit worried about something similar happening again. She reckons she is about ten feet in the air when Pavel lifts her. I think she is exaggerating a little. COWARD.

They are skating to Mercy, which I thought had already been done this year, but maybe I'm thinking of Strictly last year. I am loving Pavel's dancing. There is much armography (c Craig Revel Horwood) and many lifts. Scores - 5.0s from the skating judges, 5.5s from the performance judges for a total of 26.0. "UH-MAY-ZING," says Jess, just like Craig Revel Horwood. Pavel says she did well. Jason says listening to him paid off. Nicky is a whinging old bastard for a bit, and then says "ICE" and is happy all of a sudden.

Chris tells us that Donal is progressing every week. Which is good, as that's the whole bloody idea. [Try telling that to Coleen. - Steve] We discover that Donal failed his driving test four times, and he finds it difficult to drive Florentine in one of their moves. Not a euphemism. It's actually driving her - manoeuvring her around while he straddles her. Oh, this just sounds filthy. It's not.

They're skating to Let's Stick Together. They also have some armography but Donal looks a bit uneasy with it. He does manage to drive Florentine, though. Their big lift is a bit clunky - Florentine seems to have problems getting hold of his hands. Scores - Karen 4.0, and everyone else 4.5 for a total of 22.0. Donal says that because Florentine is French, he keeps trying to drive on the wrong side of the road. Nobody really laughs. I feel a bit sorry for him. Jayne says she never thought he would be able to jump, and he is one of the best celebrities at landing his partner on the ice after a lift. Holly mocks Karen by saying that she gave the lowest mark and doesn't think it has ever happened before. [In fairness, even Karen seems slightly surprised by this. Then again, Karen seems slightly surprised pretty much all the time. - Steve] Jason says Donal looks like a serial killer. Sigh.

Break!

Last week, Zoe got a 6.0 from Ruthie, but she still had to skate off. This week, she is skating to Run by Leona Lewis, and when she learns this, she goes mad and yelpy and scares lovely Matt who whips his hands to his chest in adorably surprised fashion. She has problems in the dress rehearsal and she cries and cries. She concludes that she should probably just do the best she can do. Good plan.

Aw, but the routine is GORGEOUS, and they look so pretty in their rose-coloured costumes. They are so intense and not bubbly, which is unusual but I think I quite like it. Scores - Karen 5.0, Nicky 4.0, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 5.5, and Robin 4.5 for a total of 23.5. Zoe says she loves still being here, but tonight could have been better. Matt says he thinks she did an amazing job, because he is lovely. Robin tells her that she needs the emotional attachment with her partner and the performance, but what he saw tonight was nervous. Ruthie and Jason argue a bit, because she is Team Zoe and he is not.

Break!

We come back to Phil hitting Jason on the head with a supersized hammer. Bored of that particular gimmick already. I'm also bored of Coleen, who's up next. In rehearsal, practising the jump, she falls over a lot. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT? She lands on her wrist. It hurts. She whines. She goes to hospital. Nothing is broken, but apparently something MIGHT be fractured in nine or ten days' time. Is that how bones work? Whatever. She's fine to skate.

They skate to Diamonds Are Forever and wear lovely sparkly costumes. She looks doddery, and has to do an assisted jump because of her wrist - whatever. [I would've thought that would put more pressure on it rather than less. - Steve] Scores 3.5 from the skaters and 4.0 from the performers, so a total of 18.5. Robin says it is her best performance of the competition, and she looked like she enjoyed it. He admits she is nowhere near as good as the others, but it was still better than the rest of the shite she's churned out. "Good girl, Coleen," patronises Jason.

Final skater - that Liverpudlian vomit-inducer. Last week he couldn't throw a hat. This week he has to do the Russian split jump, ie mid-air splits, like Head Judge Robin Cousins. On the plus side, he might fall. Ray reveals exclusively that Head Judge Robin Cousins was AMAZING at skating. O RLY? Fuckwit.

Oh, ew, Ray has a gold vest on. Can't watch. Fast-forwarding. Will rewind if he falls. Oh, boo, he doesn't. Scores - 5.5s from everyone except Ruthie, who gives a 6.0. I almost start liking Ray when he says that Head Judge Robin Cousins is a god, but then I'm distracted by Chris Dean saying, "It was good for me," and I feel like being sick twice over. Robin tells Ray that the split jump was great, but there were a few other things that were messy. [Like his face. - Steve]

So that's it - Ray and Maria top, Coleen and Stuart at the bottom, and frankly I think we could have predicted that entire leaderboard without anyone actually having to skate. Who will go? Let's find out!

The skate-off

Earlier tonight, five couples skated; now one couple must leave, and we can only hope that it'll be Coleen and Stuart.

Recap now with BACKSTAGE GOSSIP! Jess says the comments from Jason were amazing and Pavel says they are BACK with a vengeance. Bless him! Donal and Florentine keep talking about driving and I am bored of it. Zoe and Matt do not want to skate again. Coleen says Jason made her night with the mark of 4.0. Ray tries to be humble and it really does not come over convincingly.

Holly asks Karen who jumped best - she says Ray and Jess. Robin says that judging on the previous weeks, and in comparison to all the others, Coleen should go out this week.

Time for the results. You might think we're cracking on but don't forget we have that fucking ludicrous Make Me A Star filler yet. Phil touches his ear and reveals that next week the couples skating will be - Ray and Maria; and Donal and Florentine. And, obviously, we'll get the third couple after the break.

Buy things! It's good for you!

Right, the final couple going through - Coleen and Stuart. You are FUCKING KIDDING ME.

Zoe and Jess in the skate-off? This is fucking mad. Stupid fucking show. Stupid fucking votes. [Saw it coming a mile off, but it didn't make me any less angry. I give up with this fucking show. - Steve]

Now the stupid Make Me A Star auditions, with the four-year-old who's been skating for six years, the Thriller ON ICE, rhythmic gymnastics, and the pretty boy in tight jeans and a vest who Jayne liked. He takes his shirt off this time. "It was my mum's idea," he reveals. Aww, that's both lovely and sinister. Chris doesn't seem that impressed. There is much tedious boringness. Molly doesn't get through. The vest boy does. I really couldn't care less about this, guys.

Anyway, let's get back to business with the skate-off. Jess and Pav go first; Zoe and Matt go second. Phil tells everyone they have done well. Coleen annoys me irrationally by standing by the side of the rink applauding. Chris reckons he can't separate the two.

But the judges must! Karen isn't crying. I feel robbed. She saves Jess. Nicky says neither should be leaving, but he saves Jess. Jason says it is a shame that it's a popularity contest, but he saves Jess. Ruthie says they should both be going through, but she saves Zoe, because she loves her. Head Judge Robin saves Jess as well, just for completism's sake.

Highlights of Zoe's time on the show - much squealing and clattering and laughing. She says it's been amazing and great to be involved and she's excited about the tour. Matt is all choked up. [And that's sweet, because for the longest time I honestly thought Matt couldn't stand Zoe, but apparently not. Aww. I will miss both of them - they were my favourite celeb and my favourite pro this year. I've given up on everyone else. - Steve]

Next week - GIRLS ALOUD! Join Steve then!

Sunday, 1 March 2009

You can never have enough hats, gloves and shoes. And canes. And chairs.

Tx: Sunday 1st March 2009 - PROPS WEEK!

Pre-show background research: according to Phillip Schofield on Twitter, 50% of the celebrities came a cropper with their props in final rehearsal. Excited? I know I am.

Last week: Ray (blerg) was top of the class, and Coleen was not, but she escaped the skate-off, leaving Jessica and Melinda there instead. Melinda's luck finally ran out, and she went home, but with her head held high, I feel.

This week: FUCKING PROPS WEEK, HELL YEAH. Judging by the rehearsal footage, the props are causing chaos, which is why this is always the best week on this show. There's an alarming-looking shot of Christopher Dean sticking a cane right into Matt Evers's tender bits. Careful with those, Chris! Someone that pretty should not be stripped of the right to procreate. So, who will get the hat and cane, also known as the Gareth Gates Memorial Most Difficult Props Ever, Way Worse Than Chairs Or Tables Or Hula Hoops Or Anything Cumbersome Like That? Cue titles!

Like this show wasn't gay enough already, the opening number is to 'It's Raining Men', complete with day-glo macs and umbrellas. Matt is having a little too much fun, and Fred is showing off his guns. Dan does an impressive looking squat-spin type thing. Jayne nearly drops her umbrella - clearly, this stuff is every bit as hard as it looks. Seriously, it just gets to the point where it defies description, as all the pros hurl themselves along the ice in various kinds of ecstasy. It's the gayest thing I've ever seen, and I've seen High School Musical 2. If that opening number is any indication of how good the rest of the show is going to be, I can't freaking wait. [OMG. Funniest thing ever. As if this show was not gay enough. I am keeping it on my Sky+ for ever. - Carrie]

Here are Holly and Phil, complete with gold umbrellas. Phil's suit is a little more demure than last week (shame!), but doesn't look at all like the one he previewed on Twitter - trick of the light or last minute change, who knows? Holly is in a lilac dress and looking lovely. Jayne and Chris skate over to join Holly and Phil, and Chris is soaking. Clearly his umbrella was not effective. Chris says that the "rain" feels like pins and needles, and confirms that rain does not actually make the ice any slippier than it already is, on the grounds of it being, well, ICE. And speaking as someone who's been skating on open-air rinks a few times, I can attest that rain is generally the least of one's problems. Holly introduces the subject of props: Jayne says that the celebs were a bit overwhelmed at first, but got better as the week went on. Apparently everyone's had their individual problems, and it's going to be a case of seeing how it goes on the night. Chris adds that oftentimes the addition of a prop improves one's skating, because you're focusing on the prop and not overthinking the skating, and perhaps they should start with props from week one. YES, DO THIS PLEASE.

Required element VT: the celebrities must skate with either a chair, a broom, a hat, a cane, a feather boa or an umbrella. They must make full use of the props and incorporate them seamlessly into the performance. [One prop each? WIMPS. - Carrie] Unlike last year, Chris does not get soaked in the VT, though this time he got soaked in the studio, which is better/worse depending on your viewpoint, I guess.

And here are the skaters: Roxanne and Daniel, Ray and Maria (Ray's chest is entirely covered behind a sequinned shirt, THANK GOD), Jessica and Pavel (Jess is in a bizarre sequinned catsuit), Coleen and Stuart, Donal and Florentine, and finally Zoe and Matt (dressed in gold, which is a colour that does not really suit either of them).

After the break: Roxy has a chair-related meltdown, and Ray kicks a hat. Funtimes!

Phil welcomes us back to props night, and introduces the accessory we can't do without: the ice panel. I could do without all of them apart from Robin, personally. Holly greets them and asks Robin what advice he has for the skaters: Robin says hopefully they've been watching previous years so they have an idea of what to do, and adds that they need to make the prop an extension of the partnership, which ought to make it a help rather than a hindrance. Easy for him to say.

Phil reminds us that tonight's props include a walking cane, a trilby and a yellow feather boa, and thanks Jason for letting them steal from his wardrobe. Groan. He then mentions the utterly impenetrable scoring system (seriously: how are the judges' votes combined with the public votes? Given the amount of scrutiny that Strictly was under last year, it seems odd that this show can be so vague). Sixteen minutes into the show, and it's finally time for the competition to start.

Roxanne's up first: we flash back to last week where Ruthie called her "Zoe" (though this is not shown) and says that she just doesn't do it for her. Roxy asserts, quite correctly, that nobody gives a shit what Ruthie thinks and the public vote has kept her in, so in your face, Henshall. In rehearsals, Chris wheels the prop out in a large red box: at first, Roxy thinks it is a fridge, but once the box is opened, she discovers a chair. It is suggested that they choreograph some sexy moves around it, and Roxy is stumped, so Christopher Dean demonstrates what they mean by sexy choreography. I have three words for you: AAAAUUUUUGHHHH MY EYES. [I very nearly vomited. It was not good. - Carrie] Roxy, however, is more concerned that she will have to replicate those moves with her mum watching. Yes, this is truly the first sexually provocative thing you have ever done in the public eye, Roxy. Needless to say, the chair proves problematic in rehearsals, and Roxy is not convinced that all will be right on the night. Roxy wants "and chairs" to be added to the famous phrase about never working with children or animals, which really would give set designers across the world a bit of a headache.

Roxy, Dan and The Chair are dancing to 'Don't Cha', and Roxy does actually look a little bit like Nicole Scherzinger tonight, so that's good. There is some skating around on the chair, then the chair is abandoned while Dan and Roxy skate around the ice, and then they come back to it again. I wouldn't say it's exactly being integrated seamlessly - it looks a bit like they're just taking it in turns to have a sit down, though there is a good bit at the end where Roxy lies on the chair and Dan spins her by her ankles and then they let the chair slide out from underneath her and keep going into a float spin. [I laughed a lot at the attempt at them acting some kind of sexual relationship. - Carrie] Not bad, not great, let's have a look at the scores: Karen 4.5, Nicky 4.0, Jason 4.0, Ruthie 4.0, Robin 4.5 for a total of 21.0, Roxy's best score by far. (Incidentally, I went onto Wikipedia to see how far apart this was from her other scores, and somebody is updating it in real time. I was about to point out how sad and pathetic that is, but then I realised that I am sitting here writing an exhaustive blog of everything in more-or-less real time, so I am in absolutely no position to be pointing fingers. I am, however, already spoiled for Ray's score.)

Roxy is ecstatic, as you might expect. She loved this routine - she was going to say that she wanted to do it again, but then realises that would mean she'd be in the skate-off, so she decides against it. Phil asks if she felt sexy, and Roxanne spouts something about being an actress and having to get into character because normally she just doesn't feel sexy and all and PULL THE OTHER ONE, LADY. Jayne and Chris thought she was sexy, and Chris is embarrassed that his sexy training footage made it onto the screen. [SUCH a lie. - Carrie] Phil throws to Holly and the judges. Robin says what was nice was that it wasn't contrived - he thought that she delivered herself, and it was a great partnership - a fun, complete package. Ruthie says, very patronising, that it was better and not wooden like the chair. There is a bit of a pause while everyone realises that Ruthie is a total stealth mean girl, and Roxanne breaks it by saying "thanks, Karen. Sorry: Ruthie!" And, HA! Seriously, it takes a second for Ruthie to realise that she has just been royally burned, and man, is it ever awesome to watch the recognition float over her face. And nice timing there from Roxanne, too: I'm not generally a fan of backchat, but that was perfectly pitched. Ruthie is unimpressed and Daniel puts his hand over Roxy's mouth, and Ruthie snappily adds that Roxanne needs to make more of her partnership with Daniel in future, and give "less of the 'me', more of the 'we'." Phil checks, "that was a accident, wasn't it?" Roxy lies through her teeth ("Absolutely.") while the camera cuts to Ruthie rolling her eyes most discontentedly. Fight! Fight! Fight! Oh Roxy, if you are in the skate-off tonight, you will so not be getting saved by Ruthie.

Next up, Ray Quim. Ray thinks last week's score was amazing, but he crabs about how he still has "that 0.5 to go to please Jason". Oh cram it, you plastic douchebag: you can't seriously expect me to feel sorry for you not being able to get 30.0 every week. Ray's prop is a trilby, and while I'm wondering: didn't everyone have two props last year? Ray struggles to incorporate the hat into the routine: "the hat literally (sic) has a brain of its own", he says. Judging by his inability to correctly use the world 'literally', the hat may be the only one. Maria says the hat is very light and thus easy to drop, which makes it tricky. Apparently Ray's big problem is being able to throw the hat to Maria, because he throws like a girl. Or something less sexist. [I laughed at Ian Hyland's TV column in the News of the World this week, thinking up responses for "Is there anything that Ray can't do?" He suggested, "Humility? High shelves?" - Carrie]

They are skating to 'Have You Met Miss Jones?' (great, Ray and swing music, like I haven't had enough of that in my life already). It's well-skated as always, though there's a bit that looks like a slip to me quite early in the routine. He throws the hat to Maria, but it goes wide and slips out of her fingertips and falls onto the ice. Schadenfreude, making the world a better place to be! Most of the hat-related choreography seems to relate to taking it off and putting it back on again. I am unimpressed. But the skating is very good, as you would expect. Chris Fountain is in the audience, sporting a bitchface that wouldn't look out of place on Ruthie Henshall.

Scores: Karen 5.5, Nicky 5.0, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 5.5, Robin 5.5 for a total of 26.0. Ray throws the hat behind him in mock disgust, claiming that he overanalysed the throw (as opposed to "just couldn't do it", because heaven forfend he might actually not be able to do something on this show). Ray insists the hat has a mind of its own, and that if you flick it the wrong way, or it catches the wind, it'll go off. Phil points out that the studio is, in fact, devoid of wind, though Ray does not seem to acknowledge this. He wants to do it again, and I hope he has to too. Chris says that it went well in rehearsals, but sometimes things go wrong on the night. He also points out that Ray did slip in the back crossover like I thought he did, but applauds him for keeping control. Judges: Jason thinks this should've been a week for Ray to excel, and he adds that Ray cut a lot of the tricks short, so he was disappointed. Boo, hiss, etc. Karen thinks they were watching something entirely different, because she has seen that performance faultless and seamless. Yes, Karen, but not just now, which was the performance you were supposed to be judging. Jason says much the same thing, and Karen insists on being allowed to finish, saying the skating was faultless, which Chris just pointed out is in fact not true. [And Karen even says that there were a couple of trips. Karen Barber = now completely useless. - Carrie] Jason, always keen to add insult to injury, butts in that Ray's hat was on backwards for most of the performance, which is not acceptable either. Robin says that he almost went for a 5.0 because there were some flaws in the skating but went for a 5.5 because of the great presentation. He says that the trip made the skating not faultless (take that, Karen!) and after Maria failed to catch the hat, Ray was wearing it backwards for the second half of the routine. "How many people noticed that?" asks Karen. "We did - that's why we're here!" retorts Robin, thereby demonstrating why he is the best head judge ever. [I love that man more every week. - Carrie]

Coming up: Coleen cries. Oh joy.

Back from the ads, and Phil is standing behind the judges with a prop of his own: a giant inflatable hammer, which he whacks Jason on the head with. "Phillip!" chastises Jason. The hammer also appears to have something stuck to it, which looks like ice. Phil wonders who put that there, perhaps it was Karen? WHACK! Hee. And then he whacks the other three for good measure. Phil has the best job in the world.

Next up: Jess and Pavel. She was second on the leaderboard last week, but in the skateoff after the public vote. Jess says it was awful having to skate against Melinda, because the two of them were so close. She says that you feel "unpopular" being in the skateoff - well, yes. Their prop is an umbrella, and it is a bit of an obstacle in rehearsals. Incidentally, their rehearsal footage is soundtracked by Betty Boo's 'Where Are You Baby?' and I really hope that this is what they're actually skating to. Jess is worried about taking someone's eye out with the brolly. We see them in final rehearsals (where they appear to be dancing to 'Umbrella', sigh) and taking a tumble, though Jess is hoping that it will be "bad rehearsal, good show".

They are indeed skating to 'Umbrella'. Boo, how obvious, etc. They probably have the easiest prop so far to integrate into a moving routine, and they're making a good job of it - there's a lovely bit where Jess sits on the umbrella while Pavel spins her round. There's a series of jumps where she lands awkwardly and it looks ugly for a few seconds, but they recover well. Other than that, it's a good routine, and no trips, and the best incorporation of a prop thus far. Scores: Karen 5.0, Nicky 4.5, Jason 4.0, Ruthie 5.0, Robin 5.0 for a total of 23.5. Jessica is pleased not to have fallen, after falling twice in rehearsals this afternoon. She says she had fun tonight, and Pavel thinks it was flawless. Phil then narks on Jessica for leaving the umbrella at home one day during rehearsals and leaving Pavel waiting while she went back to get it. Heh. Jayne congratulates Jessica for picking herself back up after last week's skate-off, and Chris says they can use her as a mirrorball later, which would've been funnier had he not clearly been itching to say it for the past three minutes. Holly's with the judges: Nicky thought it was fun and cute, but he didn't think the umbrella brought the magic in the way it did for Duncan James. [Who is A MAN. Thus it is HARDER FOR HIM TO SKATE. ON ICE. - Carrie] Jason says it was ironic that the umbrella didn't stop her from giving a wet performance - her leg lines let her down, and the overall performance was unexciting. Robin says the skating was much cleaner this week, and she shouldn't have been in the skateoff last week. The flyaway waltz lifts are about the landings, he adds, and if she's going to do the fancy tricks, she needs to make sure she's shown how to land properly. He also says that she needs to watch what she's doing with the spare hand.

Midway scoreboard: Ray top, Jessica second, Roxanne third.

Coleen is next. In her VT, she says that her legs turn to jelly when the music starts. Unfortunate, for a former singer. Coleen is amazed that the public is saving her, and wishes she could have the confidence in her that the public seems to have. I'm not sure it's about confidence, but whatev. Coleen is worried that now she only has one nerve left, she has props to add into the equation. You and everyone else, love: it's not like you're being picked on. Her song this week is 'I Just Want To Make Love To You' and the clip we saw earlier that looked like crying now appears to just be extreme cringing. The boa proves problematic in rehearsals (I need a macro for this) - there's a bit where she has to flick the boa in Stuart's face, but she has a tendency to swing it too hard and hurt him. Burlesque artist Annette Betty is called in to help Coleen work that boa. Apparently the secret of the Art of Boa, per Annette, is "sultriness, mystery, showgirl, va-va-voom". Wow, she's almost as helpful as Brian Friedman! In rehearsals, the boa falls around Coleen's ankles and trips her up, prompting the inevitable "boa constrictor" joke, which scuppers my plans for a "good old Coleen! She won't let that boa constrict 'er!" gag should the routine go well tonight. Dammit. Coleen is now "dying" of nerves and wants to go home.

The routine is agonisingly slow, though I suppose some credit to Coleen for at least trying to look like she's enjoying it. Stuart is still doing far too much of the work, though. There are now feathers all over the ice, heh. There's an impressive splits-lift sort of thing where Coleen has one leg over Stuart's shoulder. And then it's over, with no casualties. Scores: Karen 3.5, Nicky 4.0, Jason 2.5, Ruthie 3.5, Robin 3.0 for a total of 16.5. Coleen says that if the boa were alive she'd kill it and eat it. Coleen says that her lack of confidence doesn't help her, but she's not sure anything will at this stage. Stuart, bless his gallant little heart, says he couldn't tell she was nervous at all. Chris says he thinks Coleen wanted to strangle the boa with him in it. Kinky! We go to Jason with the low score: he says it was particularly painful for him to watch, with little use of the prop aside from wearing it, which wasn't done well. He doesn't think Coleen is upping her game enough. Nicky disagrees: he saw Coleen "giving it some" out there - he thought she was selling it and was fun and entertaining. He thought she was more relaxed and better this week. Coleen tells Jason that she's not having a go at him because she thinks he's right, but it's not a question of being the best, but trying your best. Jason isn't letting that fly, of course: he can't mark her for effort (though some of the other judges would disagree, I'm sure) and she needs to do something with her prop to incorporate it properly into her routine. Boo, hiss, etc. Phil promises to go over there with the mallet during the break.

Break teaser: Donal does a striptease down to his pants to show us one hell of an angry purple bruise. NSFL!

Oh dear God, Justin Lee Collins is getting a chat show. Oh, it's okay, it'll be on ITV2. That's easily avoidable.

Back from the break: Phil is away from his mallet, but in the audience with Melinda. She says it's much easier to be sat there than out skating, but her heart is racing for everyone who's still there. Chris Fountain thinks the standard is fantastic this year, but slips in a dig about how they've got it easy because they didn't have to contend with two props like he did. Yes, and they also doesn't have to contend with your beer gut, either. Some people are just born lucky, aren't they? And then: Fern! She is supporting Coleen, and also has an eye on Donal. She liked the shot of him in his pants. Steady on, Fern. And then Fern's daughter Winnie twats Phil with the inflatable hammer. Hee!

Next, one of the most improved skaters so far (says Phil): Donal. He thinks last week was his best skate, and it was certainly the one he most enjoyed. Donal's prop is a broom, which he says requires a lot of work to get comfortable with. Donal has ideas for the choreography, and wants to do a pencil lift with it. He's getting very into it, bless him. Then we see the angry bruise on his arse again. Fern is enjoying it, I'm sure - me, not so much.

They're skating to 'I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues'. Donal starts by skating over the broom and then kicking it up to catch it. Fancy! There's some good incorporation of the broom into the routine, and I think it is true that Donal's skating has, by and large, improved a lot since the start of the series. The audience are chanting for him at the end. Scores: Karen 4.0, Nicky 5.0, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 4.5, Robin 5.0 for a total of 23.0 - Donal's highest score yet. Donal tells us that the broom is called Jean-Claude. Phil: "I guess we should talk about your leg - I guess that's why they call it the bruise." Oh, Phil. That one was beneath you. Donal says that everyone is skating with bruises and pains, his is just a little bit bigger. Chris says that it was a great routine. Judges: Robin found it "charming", and "lovely to watch", with a great connection between "the three of you". He loved the simplicity of it, and unlike Ruthie, he doesn't intend that as a backhander. Speaking of which, Ruthie thinks Donal improves every week - he can work on his deportment, but she looks forward to his performances. Karen says that Donal works incredibly hard.

And now to our final skater of the evening: it's Zoe. She got 5.0s last week for her routine, and was very pleased. Her prop is unveiled - sparkly gold canes. Zoe loves them. There are the predictable upsets in training, including the crotch-bruising we saw earlier, and Zoe is struggling to twirl the cane like a baton. So Zoe and Matt visit some adorable wee majorettes for tips. Zoe has learned the pivotal tip of not dropping it.

They are skating to 'The Boy Does Nothing' - AWESOME. Zoe twirls her baton. Matt has an amazing quiff. The skating and the routine are great, the hatchet editing job done on the song is not. There's a bit where Matt is whirling Zoe around by the cane and Zoe appears to be shaking her head at him, but I don't know if that's part of the "acting" or not. I'm fairly certain it's "acting", because she doesn't appear to be in any immediate peril, and she's had a big smile on the rest of the time. That was a lot of fun - Zoe's actually my favourite skater to watch this year. Scores: Karen 5.0, Nicky 4.5, Jason 5.0, Ruthie 6.0, Robin 5.0 for a total of 25.5. Zoe freaks when the six is unveiled, Matt looks like he literally cannot believe it - it's awesome. Phil says she looked like she was loving it, and Zoe confirms that she did. She was wearing her gold Blue Peter badge on her outfit, which brought her good luck. Matt says she works incredibly hard, day in day out. Jayne says that Zoe put so much effort into it and used the cane beautifully.

To the judges, and Ruthie, who says that a brilliant performance is when somebody makes her feel, and she was excited the whole way through that, and couldn't stop smiling. Ruthie thinks Zoe is a contender. Nicky thinks Zoe's energy is superb, but that there were timing issues and the skating was staccato. He thinks Donal did better with the prop, and Zoe agrees, and says that Donal was great. Matt beams at Zoe.

Leaderboard: Ray and Maria in first, Zoe and Matt second by just half a point, Jessica and Pavel third, Donal and Florentine fourth, Roxanne and Daniel fifth and Coleen and Stuart sixth. Interesting, that on a week where several people really upped their game, although the scores went up, the actual placings on the leaderboard weren't really affected.

And the lines are open! Time for a recap: Roxanne being embarrassed by having to ACT SCHMEXY, Ray and Maria and That Darned Hat (and snerk, the VT includes his trip, so someone on this show obviously likes him about as much as I do), Jessica and Pavel and their umbarella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh, Coleen getting boa-tied, Donal refusing to be given the brush-off, and Zoe and Matt caning it. Oh props week, what ample opportunity for punning you provide.

And that's it! Someone must go home later, but who will it be?

The Skate-Off

You know the drill by now - one of these six couples must leave the ice for good. My dramatic tension, let me show you it.

Phil informs us that the lines will be closing in a manner of seconds, and Holly informs us that soon the props will be going back into the cupboard for good. (Boo!)

Recap of tonight, now with Added Backstage Footage: Roxanne delivered herself, said Robin, though Ruthie thought she should do less of that and engage more with Daniel. Roxanne was over the moon with her score, and hopes the audience will stick with her and keep voting. Ray didn't dazzle Jason this week, though Karen still thought he was wonderful. Robin disagreed. Ray is disappointed with himself because he is a perfectionist. He has lipstick on his cheek. Jessica's skating was cleaner this week according to Robin, but Jason found her performance wet. Jessica is happy because she didn't fall over. Coleen caused Jason pain and didn't use her prop properly (try saying that six times quickly), while Nicky thought she had improved this week. Coleen reminds us that she has no confidence (you don't say!) and that the criticism knocks her down further, but she was bolstered by Nicky's kind words. Robin found Donal charming, and Ruthie thought the whole thing was gorgeous. Donal is very proud of his score, and thanks Florentine for getting him up to that standard. Ruthie gave Zoe a 6.0 and was very excited by her performance and thinks Zoe is a contender. Zoe thinks her badge worked a treat to get her that score from Ruthie.

Holly's with the judges: Nicky thinks Donal made the best use of his prop tonight, and was consistent throughout. Robin thought Coleen struggled, even though she is A LOVELY PERSON. Jason thinks Donal and Zoe deserve to sail through to next week, while the others had lots of "missed propportunities". OH DEAR.

It's time for the results. *touches ear* The following couples are safe: Jessica and Pavel, Ray and Maria, Coleen and Stuart. The audience are chanting for Donal, but to no avail, for the fourth one will be revealed after the break.

Back from the ads, and the last couple through is: Donal and Florentine. Wow, that second place spot in the leaderboard is a real bastard, isn't it?

Backstage: Zoe says there are only six people left and it could've been anyone in this position. If it ends now, it ends, she says. Roxanne says this is her opportunity to engage with Daniel like Ruthie wanted her to.

Phil stumbles over his words introducing the bit no one wants to see: the search for the next ice-dancing star. Last week we saw some of the most exciting ice-dancing acts in the UK, this week we are seeing...more, I guess? We see lots of people who are very excited at the prospect of meeting-slash-emulating Torvill and Dean. There's a percussion band whose act does not involve any actual skating. Chris advises them to use the skates as percussive instruments. They go through. Paul and Andy from Hampshire perform a comedy routine, and go through. A 20-year-old figure skater with a very high voice goes through, as does a small child. A performance troupe do 'Thriller' on ice, and Chris admires their effort, but thinks the routine needs more skating. A young girl who is a very good skater doesn't go through because she is not entertaining enough. A girl with a green face also does not get through. More people do not get through. This is so tedious. And then there's a singing, guitar-plying unicyclist ON ICE. Jayne does not think it's what they're looking for, Chris thinks he should incorporate it with some skaters. He gets through, anyway. Now there is tension when two young pairs skaters go head to head. Brother and sister combo Hannah and Daniel go first with a Grease-themed routine. They go through. Daniella and Ethan are the other pair, and they appear to be dancing to the Chipmunks. Chris tells Ethan to smile more. They go through to the next round too. They are very happy. Next week: the 20 acts on the shortlist return, and are whittled down to four finalists. I cannot contain myself, I tell you.

Back in the studio, Chris says it was very difficult to be making those decisions to turn people away. Jayne says there were a few people they didn't agree on, but she made Chris think he was the decision maker even when he wasn't. Jayne says that all the people she said no to cried. I could make a lot of jokes here, but I like Jayne, so I won't.

Then the show remembers that Zoe and Roxanne are waiting to learn their fate, but not before we go to an ad break. Tsk.

First to skate for survival are Roxanne and Daniel. Their routine is much the same as it was the first time around, since there wasn't really much wrong with it that needed fixing. Roxanne's landing coming out of the final spin is awkward, though - it looks like she hits the ice too soon, and she ends up facing the wrong way, and has to look around a little dizzily to locate the camera. [But it is OK! As we learnt last year with Chris Fountain toppling in the Cry Me A River routine, it is an end position, and it does not matter what you do with them! - Carrie] Roxanne says she took what the judges said on board and tried to develop more chemistry with Dan. Jayne thinks it was a great performance with lots of personality.

Then there are Zoe and Matt. The head-shaking thing is still present at the same place, so it obviously was intentional. Again, it's pretty much the same standard that it was before, because it was already a very good performance, though obviously it's good that nothing got noticeably worse about it. Zoe loved doing the routine, and hopes it enough. She thought Roxy was fab. Matt says it's really hard to go out and do a skate-off, even for the pros. Chris says that both girls did a great performance, and he wouldn't like to have to make the decision. Phil adds that while the cameras were off earlier, Zoe fell over on the ice. D'oh! She's okay, though. And really, while the cameras are off is the best time for something like that to happen.

Time for the judges to decide: Karen thinks they were both great performances, but votes to save Zoe. Nicky thinks Roxanne was better this time, but saves Zoe. Jason says it was one of the closest skate-offs they've had, but votes to save Zoe. Ruthie, of course, votes for Zoe, and Robin makes it a clean sweep, but commends Roxanne for giving her best performance. Zoe returns next week!

Roxanne says that being on the show has been a treat, and she can't believe she made it this far - she thanks the voters for letting her get as far as week eight. Dan says that Roxanne's been lots of fun to work with. Roxanne says she couldn't have done it without Dan, and wouldn't have wanted to share the experience with anyone else. Awwww.

Highlights reel: Roxanne falls over a lot, and is frantically trying to get fit. There was gradual, if slow, improvement, and that abortive headbanger that caused so much trouble. And then the final week, with the chair, and a far better performance that sadly proved to be her swansong.

Roxanne thanks Jayne and Chris for all their help, and she can't wait for the tour. Next Sunday, Carrie will be here as the skaters battle for a place in the semi-final. Which means that Carrie will probably be the one recapping the final, which is likely to be about one-third Ray Quinn, which might make for a very short recap. See you all next week!