Monday, 29 March 2010

Tamaddon, Tamaddon, we love ya, Tamaddon

Tx 28th March 2010

12 weeks ago (is that all?) our celebrities took to the ice, with just one goal - to revive their flagging showbiz careers. Oh - apparently not; they wanted to become SKATING SUPERSTARS. Sinitta donned the Mumba blades of near-castration and applied them to my poor Andrei; Hayley got straight 6.0s for her Bollywood-themed routine. "Who'd have thought - a boy from Essex that can't dance and can't skate" - AND CAN'T ACT, adds the audience silently - "is now in the final?" asks Gary Lucy rhetorically. I don't know, Gary Lucy, I don't understand it either. Kieron thinks it's amazing that they've done this (presumably "reached the final"); Hayley reckons it hasn't sunk in, like she hasn't been expecting it since week 1. Tonight - the skaters must fly. "I've just had a jacket potato with tuna and cheese," bewails Hayley as she sees the wires for the first time. "We'll be seeing that again," deadpans Dan. Seriously, is Hayley a bit daft, or is she Acting? There is no WAY the flying can have come as a surprise to her. Anyway, only two couples get to skate the Bolero, as always, and then one will WIN. Gary Lucy lies that he will give it his all; Hayley will take risks; Kieron is going to make "them", whoever "they" may be, eat their words.


And first, Jayne and Chris perform their latest version of Bolero, this time bastardised with silks and additional flying. And a band of musicians including a soprano sax. And an upper string section with horrible bridesmaid dresses in a variety of foul pastel shades. [I can't have been the only one who thought we saw far too many shots of the band and not enough shots of Jayne and Chris, can I? I mean, we can hear them, we don't really need to see them. - Steve] And some scary singing ladies. Everyone whoops at the end. Jayne and Chris have a little cuddle and look thoroughly knackered.

Time for Phil and Holly to make their entrance, welcome us and thank Jayne and Chris. There's then some very peculiar camera work as the focus is on Torvill and Dean standing on the edge of the rink waiting to be permitted onto the kiss-and-cry podium, and then scurry on. Chris exclusively reveals that the finalists are nervous. Holly explains that they may have to skate three routines tonight - a reprise of an old favourite, a flying routine and maybe the Bolero if they're lucky. Phil makes some flying puns. NB - this will not be the last time he does so this evening.

So let's welcome our skating stars - Kieron and Brianne, Hayley and Dan, and Gary and Maria. They won't skate yet, though, of course. Time for a break.

Back. And here are the Ice Panel. Nicky's dusted off the tux; Jason has an old diamante tie; Robin giggles at being called "a wise old bird" and then anticipates Holly's first question with a swift "yes IT'S EXCITING". He recommends that the finalists "enjoy it" and "supersize it". It is, obviously, nothing to do with him because judges' votes don't count in the final; it is all up to the Great British Public.

Time for some skating? Why, yes please! Kieron has always felt that every week would be his last, and thanks everybody. He skates into the studio to see Chris on wires and demands: "But why are you up there?" Kieron thinks flying is "a million times harder than trying to skate", and then they try to play the ChrisPIESandFrankie card by complaining that Brianne is too little to move Kieron on his wires. Srsly, Brianne, get to the gym; Kieron must weigh about seven stone sopping wet. [Now there's an idea for next year's Hollyoaks Hunks calendar. - Steve] At least Frankie was literally less than half Chris's size.

They skate and fly to One Day Like This, and sure enough Brianne does appear to be struggling to move him. He looks deft and graceful in the air, with some nice armlines and it's hard to judge content in routines like these, but it seems decent. He smacks back on to the rink, though. Scores - Karen 5.0, Nicky 4.5, Jason 4.5, Emma 5.0 and Robin 5.0 for a total of 24.0. Kieron reminds us again that flying is harder than skating and that he has been taking all the judges' comments on board. Crawler. Brianne confesses to nerves. Chris thinks it was Kieron's best performance. Jayne has changed into an outfit that makes her look like a sequinned Margaret Thatcher. Robin was worried by Kieron's ungainly rehearsal, but thinks tonight's performance was much better. Emma grabs the Alesha Dixon ball of appalling grammar to tell Kieron, "You was graceful," while your recapping team cringe [I bet no one complains to ITV about that, though. I'm sure it's fine when a white woman does it. *gets off soapbox* - Steve]. Meanwhile, Bunto has gold mascara on and it makes her look like she's got conjunctivitis. Jason says he expected to hate it but didn't, but points out that his transitions from air to ice were horrid.

Hayley and Dan were happy to get a 6.0 from Robin last week because he is the only judge worth listening to. Re: flying, Hayley is worried about being so high, and Dan mocks her. They try to develop their own move, and settle on one where Dan lies on top of her (stop it) and she has to bear his entire bodyweight as they fly.

They're skating and flying to Songbird. Hayley's harness makes her look like a box. For much of this routine she is flapping her arms. Like a songbird. Do you see? Their new move looks a total bloody mess. Gubba reckons the routine was "flawless" and starts talking about Thunderbirds. Scores - Karen 6.0, Nicky 5.5, Jason 5.5, Emma 6.0 and Robin 6.0 for a total of 29.0. Hayley feigns surprise and likens herself to a fairy on top of a Christmas tree. Because they fly? Jayne is proud; Emma is crying. The look on Karen's face when Holly asks Nicky for his comments is EPIC.

Now, Gary and Maria. He says Sunday was like a rollercoaster with nice comments (and some true ones from Jason) and having to skate off. In rehearsal he keeps on and on about being Superman and flails about the place. "I'm so scared!" says Maria. Gary replies, surprised, "What are you scared of?" Classic eyeroll from Maria as she answers, "YOU." Gary wants to prove to everyone "that we can do it." Leave Maria out of this, we know SHE can. It's just you who's tedious and shit.

They skate and fly to Star Man, though they might as well have picked Theme From Superman. All he does throughout the routine is put one fist in front of him. Booooooooooo. Oh, and look, there's his daughter, LIKE WE CARE. Scores - 5.0s from everyone except Jason who gives 4.5. Gary then drivels some more about it being every boy's dream to impersonate Superman really shitly and Chris saying he is the Best Evah. Jayne tactfully refers to "random moments". Karen says it came together. Jason says there were things wrong with it but he was better than he expected.

And the lines are open! Quick, everyone, give ITV your money!

OH MY GOD THERE IS RAY QUINN IN THE AUDIENCE. Fortunately Phil opts not to talk to him and introduces a montage of Kieron's JOURNEY. Kieron now loves lifting Brianne, and liked jumping even though he broke his face. The most important thing is his now-lifelong friendship with Brianne, which is sweet. They're choosing to reprise Ever Fallen In Love. Brianne still looks like she's a refugee from an amdram production of The Rocky Horror Show. Gubba then says "Johnny Rotten and arm candy with attitude", which riles me so much I don't listen to anything else until he mentions "auditioning in the summer". They AUDITION for this?! [Yep - one of the few useful things I learnt from Dancing On Ice Friday was that Sinitta auditioned four times before she actually got on the show. - Steve] Scores - 5.0s from everyone except Robin, who gives 4.5, for a total of 24.5. Kieron announces that he is bleeding in his mouth again because he got too excited and bit his tongue. [Bless his little cotton socks. - Steve] Nicky loves Kieron's attack and commitment, and then says something about "a raggedy show". Emma can't fault him on performance.

Hayley's JOURNEY VT talks about her friendship with Dan and not wanting to let him down, and realising that she was good after the first show. She is proud of them for giving the audience what they wanted, ie the headbanger, and feels that she is now living the dream. They're re-performing Jai Ho, obviously, and though it doesn't have the shock-surprise-wow factor as it did initially, Hayley's skating really has improved in the past few weeks. Didn't think much of that spin, mind. And her arm muscles are looking fine. Gubba reckons the routine got six 6.0s first time round. It gets five this time though. There is much celebrating. Hayley does a bit of humility. Chris's suit is lovely. Robin thinks it was even better than a few weeks ago. Karen is crying and everyone laughs at her.

Next is Gary, and of course he has a million memorable routines to choose from. Or not. He says he connected with What About Now, which I don't remember at all. [I had exactly the same problem. I could recognise Kieron's and Hayley's routines from the music, but when this track kicked in I didn't have a clue. Then again, what has Gary done that was memorable, apart from perhaps Pulp Fiction? And even then all I remember is the song. WORST FINALIST EVER. And that includes MacIntyre. And Langford. - Steve] Then he wails about not being able to dance and then invokes HIS DAUGHTER WHO WANTS HIM TO WIN. They skate. I really don't care; I loathe him too much at this point. Gubba then makes a really inappropriate comment about Gary losing his job at The Bill, at which I laughed. Scores - Karen 5.0, Nicky 5.5, Jason 4.5, Emma 5.0 and Robin 5.0 for a total of 25.0. Gary says it is a beautiful song to skate to, and then anticipates Jason's criticisms and looks like a child throwing his toys out of the pram. Jason comments on the lack of emotion in Gary's performance and then says the following, which is possibly the best comment by any judge on any reality TV show EVER -

"Talk about milking the cute kid card."

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Jason ftw! Gary is stony-faced. Holly tells him off, and says that Robin disagrees. But then Robin actually agrees with Jason's comments, saying his skating is good but he'll never be as good at performing as Hayley. And then Robin makes a stab at total ftw-ness with a subtle burn on Nicky - "three of us gave you what you deserved." HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Time for a quiz. Where are Jayne and Chris from? Glasgow, Cardiff or Nottingham? A clue - they're not Scottish or Welsh.

Jayne and Chris are proud of the finalists. Phil says it is his least favourite bit of the whole series, seeing someone ready to skate the Bolero and not being able to. Then time for another montage - Danny scraping his blades around, Heather and her leg, Dr Hilary being a doctor, Sinitta falling flat on her face, mad pro routine with clowns, Sinitta slicing up my poor Andrei again, Sharron being possessed by a tree, Jeremy putting a grenade up his arse, Dr Hilary singing doctorly karaoke, Gary's mates mocking him, Gary's DAUGHTER, Michael Ball being fabulous, Angela Rippon being journalistic and fabulous, and then the stars being culled one by one.

And it's time for the first set of results - who will skate Bolero? First through - Hayley and Dan! And the second - bloody Gary and Maria. SERIOUSLY? Kieron and Brianne are dignified in defeat. Of course he gets another montage, and they giggle at the clips of him falling over. Brianne snuggles in closer to him, too upset to watch, and they are very cute. It ends with him saying, "I LOVE Dancing On Ice, me," and...oh, poor Kieron. He thanks everyone and hopes he has done everyone proud. Jayne confirms they are all indeed proud. [And cut to Gary not clapping again. Twat. - Steve]

So Hayley and Dan skate against Gary and Maria, and once more the voting slate is wiped clean. They like to extract as much cash as possible from the viewers, don't they? Phil makes a gag about reciting the phone-vote terms and conditions in his sleep. Chortle. [And yet still they never explain exactly how the results are calculate, even though they do it on Strictly every week. - Steve]

And more chortling as the eliminated skaters return to the ice - Sinitta and my Andrei (should she be skating? She nearly falls over three times in about 12 seconds anyway, and then Andrei pats her); Bobby (who is dreadful) and Molly (who is so beautiful, and winks cutely at the camera); Jeremy and Susie, who are having an inordinate amount of fun - if they'd had that dynamic in the competition they might not have gone so early; Tana and Stuart, who I'd forgotten about due to her being a) not famous and b) a bit shit; Heather and Lovely Matt, who don't do a headbanger as they've been threatening to do; Dr Hilary, who is a doctor, and Alexandra, who look pretty good, actually; Sharron and Pav; Emily in Alexandra THE BEAST BURKE mode and Lovely Fred; Mikey and Mel and that peculiar Minnie Mouse hairdo; Danny and no shirt and Frankie; and Danniella and Matthew. Hooray for them all! [God, it was a rum lot this year, wasn't it? You could tell how shit most of the returning skaters were when I was actually glad to see Emily. I did love seeing Danniella glomp her way through an entire routine again though. - Steve]

Time for the annual bout of Bolero reminiscing. Hayley and Dan watch old footage on a big screen and hope to give the audience goosebumps. Chris suggests putting their experience into their routine. There's a good idea! Thanks, Chris! Dan insists on putting in the scissor lift which they fell on earlier in the series, deeming it "unfinished business".

So they skate in their very paso doble purple outfits. One thing I particularly notice here is Hayley's lovely hand shaping, and the drama they imbue into their moves; they have a strong connection and even when they're not looking at each other, it's palpable. I know they've been friends for a gazillion years and so it's not based on the past few months, but it's still nice to watch. Hayley is tearful and cannot talk; Dan looks like he's close to sobbing too. Robin and Emma are still applauding a good 40 seconds into the ovation. It always seems a bit weird, like something's gone wrong, when the judges don't give their scores after a routine. Phil asks some stupid questions; Hayley and Dan fail to answer them. Chris says that being in your own world, as Hayley and Dan were, is just how he and Jayne were at the Olympics. Robin says that Hayley and Dan are always in the zone but they never forget to give a performance for the audience.

Gary and Maria's turn. He says he's been watching the Bolero "several times" and sure enough, he and Maria watch on a big screen as he patronises the best ice skating couple of all time with comments like "Oh, that's lovely" and then promises us "TV gold" with his routine. Twat. Maria shouts at him a lot during rehearsal. Good for her. Oh, and then they skate the routine and I totally forget to watch. Twice. Don't worry, though, India, who is GARY'S DAUGHTER, has watched it enough for both of us. Gary smugs over to the kiss-and-cry podium. Robin says that Gary has room for improvement but has got better in the past few weeks. Heh. Backhanded compliments abound. I heart Robin.

Time for another break. There are lots of musicals being advertised on the telly lately.

And finally, the phone lines are closed. Holly claims that the Bolero is "an iconic song". Jayne and Chris exclusively reveal that the final two couples are now nervous. Phil talks to Hayley, and she confirms this. Montage of their best bits - meeting up at the rink; falling over; beating each other up a bit; gaying it up to Enough Is Enough; headbanging, etc etc. Gary never thought he'd reach the final because he can't dance (or act or perform), and Maria lies that he is hardworking as he kisses her forehead in a really fake way for the third time this evening. They have a montage VT too but nothing really happens in it apart from his daughter being there. Seriously. I know we mock a lot, but he has invoked her an embarrassingly unironically huge amount. That alone is a reason for him to not win by default.

And hooray, Hayley and Dan win, as we probably all expected from the beginning, and they were certainly the best couple. I've seen a few moans about Hayley not skating that much but she skates a hell of a lot more than Bonnie bloody Langford ever did. Gary pretends he is pleased for Hayley and then talks about his daughter (honestly, he does). Hayley and Dan receive their trophy from Jayne and Chris, and Phil and Holly bid us farewell. Actually, to give Gary credit, as the camera pulls away, he's giving his flowers to Jayne, which is quite sweet. But we still don't like him.

Well, that's it for another series. Don't forget that we're also blogging Over The Rainbitch - and we'll be back in the summer for the autumn reality TV monoliths...and then we'll see you back here next year! Bye!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Go, Westbrook

Top 4: 21st March 2010

Last week! It was props week, and I wasn't on recapping duty, which I was very upset about. It was a good week for Danniella, who hit the top of the leaderboard for the very first time, knocking Hayley down to second place. And Danny faced Kieron in the skate-off, with the former being sent home after the hat decided to strike out against weeks of tyranny from Frankie. We're now into the semi-final, and one skater must be sent home tonight. If we could make it Gary Lucy, that would be fab. Thanking you in advance.

Post-titles, we have Phil and Holly. Holly's boobs are looking magnificent again in a yellow dress with a glittery rim. I feel like I should be calling her Tinsel Tits. Because we've got a lot of time to fill tonight, we begin with a group routine where the celebs join Jayne and Chris to skate to 'As', accompanied by enough dry ice to completely cover Luxembourg. You will, I'm sure, be shocked to learn that Gary Lucy looks positively mortified to be involved in the entire thing. While it's nice to see the real skating stars of the show hitting the ice with the celebrities, I'm not really feeling this routine. It's a bit slow and laboured in places, especially where Jayne and Chris go off for individual spots with two celebs apiece. Still, I guess they have to fill the time somehow, and anything's better than more ad breaks, right?

Holly beckons Jayne and Chris over to the rinkside, and Chris talks proudly about how far they've all come. Jayne says they've all had to learn stuff for the final as well as their regular routines this week, so everyone has been very busy indeed.

It's time for a VT! Jason blathers on about how the competition is really starting now. A washed-out looking Gary Lucy talks about how no one wants to go out now. Karen calls Gary the strongest male skater. Nicky and Emma criticise him for not delivering performance-wise. Hayley is loving every minute. Karen knew that she was something special. Robin thinks she's the complete package. Nicky isn't sure that she can skate on her own. Kieron feels like he's earned his dark horse status by making it this far. Bunto thinks he's now a strong, confident man. [When she said this I couldn't help be reminded of Chandler's hypnotism tape: "You're a strong, confident woman, who does not need to smoke." - Carrie] Jason loves being proven wrong, although you wouldn't think it, and believes Kieron's in with a chance. Danniella can't believe she's in the semi-final, especially having gone from two skate-offs to the top of the leaderboard. Robin thinks she can command your attention, and believes she can bring out a performance that will get her to the final. The contestants all gaze moodily into the camera, and there endeth the VT. With almost ten minutes of content, that must make it time for an ad break!

When we arrive back, it's time to learn this week's required element: the solo spot, where the celebs must skate out of the tunnel alone and perform at least the first 20 seconds of the routine by themselves. Much is made of it being a huge test of nerve, but come on: Coleen Nolan got to this stage last year. It can't be that difficult. The ice panel are introduced, and are all looking very nice tonight. Even Jason's dressed like a sane human being for once. Robin explains that the required element is a chance for the celebrities to shine. Holly asks if Danniella's performance has thrown the competition wide open, and Robin non-answers that this is a new week, and if the contestants come out and dance like finalists, they will be finalists. Although one of them still has to go home.

First up this week are Hayley and Dan, and we're reminded that they've been top of the leaderboard every week in which they've performed, until last weekend, when they were a whole ONE POINT behind Hayley. Hayley is forced to say that she isn't jealous of Danniella, lest we all think she's a scheming Tonya Harding type. Chris says that she now has a point to prove, and it turns out that they've invented a lift of their own this week to impress the panel. It involves Hayley sticking her blade between his legs, and Dan admits that one rehearsal did leave her heel touching his "undercarriage". Ooer. Hayley's also had an old injury flare-up, but she's determined not to let it get in the way. "Can't breathe, can't move, broken arms, but apart from that, I'm happy," she grins.

Hayley enters solo like a pro, looking very graceful. Her routine is to 'In My Life', and her solo skate is rather lovely - very controlled and very dramatic, and she makes it until Daniel's arrival without any mishaps. It's meant to be a bit of a love story, this one, and their natural chemistry stands them in good stead. The risky lift goes without a mishap (although Daniel seems to be gritting his teeth a little bit - who could blame him?) and there's a nice mix of showy lifts and technical skating. Very nice indeed. Hayley looks very relieved when it's all over. Gubba calls her "Hayley's comet" but says that she's around every week rather than every 75 years. Heh. Scores: Karen 5.5, Nicky 5.0, Jason 5.5, Emma 5.5, Robin 6.0 for a total of 27.5. Hayley's thrilled by her score from Robin. Hayley tells Phil that the solo skate is petrifying, but it was a challenge, and that's why she's there, and she loved it. Dan confirms that his tackle is still in good working order: "It's nothing that a bit of witch hazel wouldn't sort out." Snerk. Jayne thought Hayley coped beautifully on her own, and when Dan came in, it got even better.

Holly's with the judges. Robin says that he loved her practice earlier, but tonight's was even smoother, and he liked that there was no difference in the quality of her skating whether she was on her own or with Dan. Nicky congratulates Hayley for being poised and precise, but criticises her for being SLOW OVER THE ICE. It's a slow song, Nicky. What is she supposed to do? He says she is a DANCER ON ICE, but not a SKATER ON ICE. [Seriously, we could just get a tape recording of someone droning on and alternating the words "ON ICE", "DANCING ON ICE", "SKATING ON ICE" and "SLOW OVER THE ICE" in place of Nicky, and I guarantee it would have a sharper critical faculty. - Carrie] [I vote we just replace Nicky with a speed camera and have done with it. - Steve] Jason says that he wasn't even worried about her being on her own, and that they moved so beautifully together, it was sublime. However, he would've liked a little more release in the back drapes, which is presumably what kept her from a 6.0.

More ads. Get used to seeing those two words.

On our return, Phil's in the audience with two new judges for the tour: Kyran Bracken, and BIGGINS. Kyran says he's nervous for everyone, and they all deserve to be in the final. BIGGINS thinks his judging style will be a mix of Jason and Robin, although he's not sure which way around.

Phil introduces Gary Lucy as "the macho star from The Bill". Dude, he was in Footballers' Wives. He really can't sell himself as being "macho", believe me. Gary complains about the indignity of having two props last week, but he survived. Chris says that Gary got good marks, but because the rest of the competition is so strong, he was bottom of the leaderboard. Gary is happy that the public liked him enough to keep him in. Gary is concerned at having to be on his own for 30 seconds (I could've sworn they said 20 earlier, but Chris is saying 30 now). It seems to be going okay for him in rehearsals. Jayne pretends that Gary has had a JOURNEY since the beginning when he was too embarrassed to dance to music. Who the hell does she think she's kidding? We all saw the look on his face during the opening routine, lady. Gary reminds us all that he is NOT A DANCER, and then we're into his arrival onto the ice.

He does a kind of jump spin that looks sort of like a trip, but I assume it was on purpose. He's dancing to 'You And Me Song' in a pink vest and still looking horribly uncomfortable, although you'd think that being asked to basically hug himself for choreography would be something he'd quite enjoy. Still, he is reasonably fast OVER THE ICE, because he has an uptempo song, which I'm sure will impress Nicky. There are lots of lifts and jumps which are all very strong. Gubba lies that Gary has "really loosened up" and mentions that Gary was a young footballer, because he is dead macho and that. Scores: Karen 4.5, Nicky 5.5 (I am WARNING YOU, Slater), Jason 4.5, Emma 5.0, Robin 5.0 for a total of 24.5, his personal best. Oh well, there go my hopes of getting rid of him this week. Gary is relieved not to have tripped or dropped Maria or knocked over a cameraman. He doesn't know why he decided to put a jump in. Chris thinks he did really well, and continues this fallacious journey that Gary is supposed to have had where he doesn't look uncomfortable on the ice any more. I call shenanigans. Emma says that his solo was strong and he's a strong partner, but he does still look self-conscious sometimes. Karen can't fault his skating ability, but he's on his toes a little bit and some of his lines were a little off. Jason says that Gary is like skating valium to him - he's still waiting for a performance, but there's no dynamism or thrill in his presentation. The audience boos, but Jason is not wrong. Jason finishes by saying there was more energy and vitality in his VT than there was on the ice there. [And there's a little pause there where the audience aren't sure whether to boo or not. HA. Idiots. - Carrie] Phil tells us to vote for Gary if we want to see "Lucy in the sky with sequins" next week. DO NOT WANT.

Competition. More ads.

Who's next? Danniella. In her VT, she says she felt convinced she was in for her third skate-off, so she was determined to go out and do it as best she could - and as a result, she ended up on top of the leaderboard. "It's the first time anyone else has been top of the leaderboard all series," she says, happily. However, she's less happy about skating solo, and tells Matt she only likes skating with him. Aww. She says it's going to be very odd without him being there, and skating out solo will be really scary. Matt promises he will be cheering on from backstage, and Danniella says she hopes to put her nerves to one side.

She has a very slight wobble before she exits the tunnel and is slower ONTO THE ICE than her predecessors, but otherwise Danniella makes it out. She's skating to 'When Love Takes Over', and her solo spot is a little slow, but it's quite measured and precise, which is admirable. She does look very grateful when Matthew arrives, though. The song kicks up its tempo a bit and they do a bit of dancing on the spot, including a jump, and then head out around the ice for a bit of showmanship, including some very fancy lifts. I have to say, Danniella's really improved her dismounts over the past couple of weeks. Scores: Karen 5.0, Nicky 4.0, Jason 4.5, Emma 5.0, Robin 4.5 for a total of 23.0. Seriously, I am beginning to think that all you need to do to impress Nicky is fire yourself out of a cannon and shoot across the ice at Mach 2. Danniella says that she's very proud of herself for making it through, because she's not a natural skater. Chris says he didn't see the nerves, and he thinks she's given consistently fantastic performances across the series. Nicky says that her presentation was super, and she had energy in the dance movement, but it's static, and her skating skills are tentative compared to some of the others. This next bit's amazing: Karen turns to Nicky and says in a voice dripping with disdain: "Did you give that a 4.0? I can't believe it." I start doodling "Mr Karen Barber" all over my notebook. Nicky tries to explain himself by pointing out that he gave Hayley a 5.0, and Karen is so not even interested in his reasoning. HEE! She tells Danniella that the skating skills are there, and that the solo section was very good, and they must be watching something very different. Bunto chips in, saying that Danniella's performances give her tingles - her spiral was a bit unsteady, but her performances are great. I guess we'll be seeing Danniella in the skate-off again tonight, then?

More ads.

When we're back, Phil promises that they'll have everyone flying next week, "unlike British Airways". Chortle. Kieron recalls last week, where he gave a great routine but had the double blow of being in the skate-off and seeing Danny go. Kieron's amazed that he got this far, and said that even his mum didn't think he would. Heh. One of their moves from this week is a one-handed death spiral, which is incredibly lame to watch despite its supremely ominous name. Chris cautions that there is a lot of room for error here (I think "potential for error" is really the phrase he was looking for) and that any mistake could jeopardise Kieron's chances. Kieron skates out solo with some lovely arm movements and hair that looks like he was having sex in a park before arriving to do the show.

He's skating to 'Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)' by Green Day. His solo spot is rather nice, with some floor gymnastics and lots of dramatic arm-waving, and then Brianne arrives and they proceed to the lifts, some of which are more successful than others - there's definitely one where she's rather wobbly on his shoulders because they seem to have their weight distribution not quite right. It's definitely testament to how far he's come, mind. The misleadingly-titled death spiral goes without a hitch. Gubba says something about him originally looking "more malnourished than olive oil", or possibly Olive Oyl, which would make a bit more sense. Scores: Karen 5.0, Nicky 4.5, Jason 4.0, Emma 5.0, Robin 4.5 for a total of 23.0. Kieron says that the others were a tough act to follow, and he's amazed just to get 23.0. Phil points out that Kieron keeps writing himself off, and Kieron says that he never ever thought he'd get this far. He thanks Brianne for letting him do the death spiral, and says that he quite liked skating on his own, before adding, "sorry, Brianne". Bless. Chris says that he's impressed with how much Kieron's developed, and trots the dark horse out again. Jason thought the performance of the solo spot was rather ugly, because he was doubled over. He thinks Kieron skates well, but his arm movements and presentation let him down. He also didn't think Kieron was counterbalancing the death spiral properly. Karen says that they've watched him grow in strength and in confidence, and he did a lot of hard movements with speed, which made it one of his best performances.

Final leaderboard: Hayley back in first, Gary and Maria second, and Danniella and Matthew and Kieron and Brianne tying for third. The lines open and we're treated to a video recap of the night's performances, wherein Hayley was graceful but SLOW OVER THE ICE, Gary titted around in a pink vest hugging himself and looking embarrassed, Danniella flew through the air a lot and Kieron and Brianne did a death spiral, without any death.

And there we have it. It's time for everyone to get voting - hopefully not for Gary - before we discover who's in the skate off. The audience chants for Kieron, and then we're outta there.

The Skate-Off

We're back, and Phil teases a performance from Alexandra BURKE still to come this evening, and reminds us that one of our hopefuls will not continue to next week's grand final. There is, apparently, still time to vote for our favourites, so much so that we're given a reminder of the numbers. Some small print at the bottom of the screen explains that the lines will not close in a matter of nanoseconds, but rather after Alexandra BURKE's performance.

Time for a recap of earlier: Hayley was serene and had "everything right tonight" per Robin, but was not a skater ON ICE to Nicky. Hayley was really pleased to have good feedback from Jason, because she needed to impress him after last week. Gary gave it his all, according to Bunto, and started to excite her. The same could not be said for Jason, however. Gary openly says that he will not listen to Jason. Danniella's skating skills were too tentative for Nicky's taste, and Karen wished it was still props week so she could whack a cane across his head. Danniella just hopes the public will vote for her. Kieron had a lot of material in his programme, and gave his best performance yet according to Karen, which he thinks is the icing on the cake for him.

Phil reminds us that the lines are still open, and then Alexandra BURKE is here with her new single, 'All Night Long'. I think she's singing live, but in all fairness, I don't know what the studio version of this song sounds like, so I have nothing to compare it to. Stuart and Alexandra (I think?) [edit: huge thanks to loyal reader Michelle for pointing out that Alexandra was actually skating with her husband and skating partner, Lukasz Rozycki, something I would not have worked out for myself in a million years - Steve] come out and do some fairly terrifying lifts to accompany the song, which is pleasant enough but desperately in need of a decent chorus. It's no 'Broken Heels', let's put it that way. On the other hand, it's also no 'Everybody In Love', so she's doing something right, at least. And then Lovely Matt (hooray!) and Frankie appear and skate for us, and Lovely Matt is in a mesh top, not that that should matter, but it's my job to point these things out. Aw, the song is still going, and it's still a bit substandard. Poor Alexandra BURKE - she is actually quite an ace popstar and deserves stronger material than this, which I don't think is going to shift many units. Although her appearance has reminded me that I haven't bought her album yet, so maybe I should go and do that. The song finishes, the pro skaters clap for Alexandra, and she giggles. Bless.

Phil tells us that the lines are closed, and teases the never-fascinating Dancing On Ice Friday, which this week will feature the contestants getting ready for the final. As you might expect. Holly's with the judges next, and says that Danniella has gone from top of the leaderboard to joint bottom, and therefore does this mean it's anybody's game? Robin says there's pressure on all four of them, but the nerves showed for him tonight.

Now Phil has got the results. *touches ear* But we're not going to hear any of the answers until after the break. Who saw that coming? Oh, right: everybody.

More ads.

Right, where were we? The first couple through to the final is Hayley and Daniel, and the other couple definitely joining them is Kieron and Brianne. That leaves Gary and Maria facing off against Danniella and Matthew in the dance-off! I mean, Danniella's obviously going home, but Gary's presence in the skate-off is heartening, at the very least.

Gary skates back out, and his jump is a little more of a hop this time. He's obviously trying to give it his all for the skate-off, but his arm movements are still rather limp and lacking purpose. Is it wrong of me that I'm actively willing him to fall over just so Danniella gets an automatic bye? It is? Yeah, I thought so. Still, they lose their balance in their end pose and topple over, so maybe that'll count? A boy can dream, anyway. [They should have just got up and pointed at the camera, a la Chris The Pie Man. - Carrie] Oh, and there's a shot of Gary Lucy's DAUGHTER crying in the audience. Stay classy, ITV.

Danniella skates back out, still a little tentative, but more confident-looking than she was the first time. She's still rather slow this time around, but her solo spiral is a little stronger. It looks as though one of her lifts with Matthew goes very slightly wrong, but they cover it reasonably well, and they're giving it their all. I hope against all hope that the judges decide to save her, because I'd much rather see her in the final than Gary. She says that she thinks she nearly took Matt's leg off earlier, but for someone who couldn't tie her boots a few months ago, she's doing quite well. (Do you actually tie skate boots?)

Karen saves Gary. Nicky says that Robin as head of the judges has called that the fall at the end of Gary's routine doesn't count because it was after the routine has ended. BOO, say I. Anyway, he saves Gary, "by the skin of your teeth". Jason says it's about performance for him, and he wants an exciting final, so he votes for Danniella. Emma votes to save Danniella, for the same reasons. So it's down to Robin to decide. He votes for quality, content, skating style and movement, and saves Gary. DAMN YOU, COUSINS. For one blissful second there, I thought we were rid of him.

We see Danniella's best bits, including her mass of impressive performances, but sadly no reprise of her amazing Dusty Springfield number. Phil says that he's really going to miss her, and Danniella says that everyone left is a fantastic skater, and she's thrilled to have come that far. She thanks Karen for her help and patience, and she thanks Chris and Jayne, saying that she joined the show just so she could skate with them. Matt says she's been an incredible partner. Danniella thanks the voters, and her kids and her husband, and promises to do the school run again tomorrow.

Ooh, and this bit is interesting: there's a quick shot of the other celebs and pro skaters, all of whom are clapping for Danniella, apart from Gary, who rubs his arm before tucking his hands behind his back. Tosser.

So that's it! Carrie will be here for the grand final next week, which will give us flying, bolero, and a winner. I'm trying not to focus too much on the fact that Dancing On Ice precedent thus far has always given a winner from whichever gender had the higher proportion of the 2:1 split - which doesn't bode well for Hayley. Until next week!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Loose props

Tx 14th March 2010

Last week! Hayley and Dan were awesome on Movie Week, Kieron and Brianne did a Pink Panther striptease of sorts, and Danny resorted to taking his top off. Meanwhile, Gary was dull as anything yet Mikey left the competition. This week is PROPS WEEK, FINALLY. And we can barely contain our excitement. Apologies for any typos, by the way - I've torn the ligaments in my right hand and cannot actually type with it, so it's a long, slow process. A bit like this series, really. Badoom-TISH!


Oh dear GOD the I HEART YOU DADDY banner is out in force already, and we've not had any skating yet. Gary Lucy, you are an egregious vote-mongering gimp. Phil and Holly welcome us, and then ask us to welcome Jayne, Chris and two cowboy hats. No, seriously, that's actually what Holly says. [And they say television is dumbing down! - Steve] And the studio audience are so stupid they do so. Then something really weird happens with the sound - the applause fades down but you can still hear it in the background, even though nobody's clapping. Anyway, Jayne and Chris are doing a Western-tinged routine to A Little Less Conversation. Jayne is not happy with the hat tricks, I would guess, and Chris fancies himself as a cowboy.

Phil tells them they are show-offs, and then introduces the customary VT explaining what a prop is. This year's roster consists of a chair, a mic stand, an umbrella, a cane and a hat. I miss the wheeled suitcase and the table. Jayne and Chris confess that they don't really like skating with props either. Apparently all the couples have been struggling this week. Probably not as much as Gareth Gates, though, who had the hardest time in the history of ice-dance with his props, as I'm sure you'll remember.

So here are our skating stars - Gary Lucy, who IS A FATHER, and Maria; Danniella and Matthew; Kieron and Brianne; Hayley and Dan; and Danny and Frankie.

And obviously then it's time for a break.

When we come back, we meet the Ice Panel - Robin is already writing notes for some reason, and Emma is dancing around in her seat, the weirdo. Holly says to Robin, "This is one of my FAVOURITE weeks," and he just interjects, "Yep," in a really flat, sarcastic way, which is bizarrely brilliant. He says that the couples need to interact with their prop, and the skating takes a bit of a backseat. He also sounds out a warning to Hayley - last week doesn't matter any more and all five couples have to prove themselves.

Phil mocks Jason's peculiar sartorial taste again and then finally gets round to introducing Gary. 18 minutes in, and we get our first contestant, with Schofe warning Jason, "He's got a big stick." This is a family show, Schofield! Less of the filth. Last week, Gary didn't actually manage to do the required element, so he hopes to do better with the cane, which he seems to think is a baton. Maria informs us that canes do not listen, which I also tend to find is a recurring problem with inanimate objects. And once again Gary's inability to move with any kind of grace and coordination is creating difficulty in rehearsal. To his credit, though, he has decided to put in the spin (that he failed to do last week) just to show that he can do it. Well, better later than never, eh, Gary?

They're skating to Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick, and have two silver glittery canes. They begin with some shoulder-shrugs and Gary couldn't look more embarrassed if he tried, which he wouldn't, because trying is anathema to him. There's a weird bit where Maria does some disco-dancing by herself while Gary does semaphore at her. Well, at least it wasn't as dull as it has been previously. Damning with faint praise, perhaps. Scores - 4.5s from everyone except Jason, who gives 4.0, for a total of 22.0. Gary tells Phil that the canes are his foes, and it is really difficult to get them to move in a line, and everything was better in rehearsal WHINE WHINE WHINE DID I TELL YOU I HAVE A DAUGHTER? Chris is pleased Gary put the spin in, just for his self-confidence. Robin says there were some major timing issues in rehearsal, and Gary did well to save himself from a couple of trips. Jason says Gary has upped his game, but there were some synchro issues, though he applauds him for adding the spin. Nicky says it lacked commitment and that it was "Ian Dury and the Blockheads meets Fred Astaire". What? [I swear I'm only understanding about one word in every twenty Nicky says this year. - Steve] Then he and Jason start bickering again so Holly has to break them up AGAIN.

Phil and Holly introduce the next bit with a little skit about Mothers' Day - he wishes his mum a happy day thus saving on the expense of a card. Holly looks genuinely outraged. Next up to skate are Danniella and Matthew, who had to skate off last week against Mikey and Mel, and were surprised to survive. This week, they have to dance with a chair ON WHEELS ON ICE. Their choreography this week seems to be living out some of Christopher Dean's perverse fantasies - he clearly knows the characters he wants them to play before he's even spoken to them. "Hmm, She's Got The Look - what do you think she might be?" he asks Danniella. Before she responds, he suggests, "What about a secretary, that's very prim and proper to begin with?" He then explains how he wants her to let her hair down (literally). Meanwhile back on planet earth, Danniella and Matthew are struggling with the chair. She throws it all over the place, and there are clunks as it crashes into the hoardings and wheels ping off.

First off, can we please just establish how amazing Danniella's breasts are looking tonight? Even better than Holly's, I think. And this routine is utter and absolute FILTH. [Indeed. I loved it. - Steve] She's fantasing about her boss, or something, and smouldering at Matt and the camera over the top of her glasses. And she does an admirable job of letting her hair down as she flies across the ice in that damned chair. The routine finishes a little behind the music as they get the float spin nailed, and then Tony Gubba clearly needs a cold shower as he recaps the routine for us. Scores - straight 5.5s for a total of 27.5.

Danniella has been panicking about the chair all week. Matthew reveals that the chair is called Scarlett. Jayne says that doing things with a chair is different from doing things without a chair. Chris jokes (?) that Danniella is well suited to work with a chair because she likes sitting down. Emma enthuses about Danniella's lines; Robin says that even sitting down, Danniella's feet look lovely and she's taking care of detail. Karen enjoyed watching the character develop over the week. Schofe presents Danniella with a bill for all the chairs she broke in practice. She bites her lip cutely.

Last week, Kieron and Brianne were adorable, pink and camp. This week, Chris and Jayne play them 'The Great Pretender', and Kieron asks, "Why do I know that voice?" Chris looks bemused and replies, "Because it's Freddie Mercury?" And Kieron and Brianne learn that their prop is a mic stand on a rounded stand. Part of Kieron's routine is to sing the words along with the song, which is the cue for a funny montage of him singing it in a variety of situations over the course of the week.

Sure enough, Kieron's doing a Stars In Their Eyes version of Freddie Mercury ON ICE, and this is actually a very appealing routine. The skating looks really good too, and though Brianne's pulling some odd faces, maybe she too is in character of some description. They use half the mic stand as a cane as well as keeping it in situ, which shows a bit of creativity. Scores - 4.5s from everyone but Emma, who gives 5.0, for a total of 23.0. Kieron is very happy, even though he still cannot sing. Chris is pleased that Kieron sold it, and Jayne has commented on how strong his skating is now. Nicky loved the commitment to the character, but thinks Gary had a harder task. Well, that's not Kieron's fault, is it? [And still not nearly as hard as Gareth Gates' props from series three, I'm sure. - Steve] He then tells him off for chucking Brianne back onto THE ICE rather than placing her gently. Jason says Kieron's turned it up a notch, and though he'd like to have seen more done with the mic stand, he knows that's not Kieron's fault. That's very reasonable of Jason, isn't it? Seriously, Nicky, when you're sounding more mental and illogical than Jason, you know you need help.

Next up, Hayley and Dan, who are going to have their work cut out to follow last week's full house. Dan was pleased that they got a standing ovation from the judges. Jayne thinks it will be a stand-out performance from all the series. They are then rather scarily enthusiastic about the umbrella they've been given to work with to the tune of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. Hayley is not good at throwing, and then they do a quick Chuckle Brothers skit - "To me! To you!"

And see, this is lovely and lyrical and romantic, but it's a bit...diabetes-inducingly sweet. This is the kind of routine Hayley and Dan should never do because there is just too much showbiz gloss and insincerity. Oh, look, some beaming at the camera in tandem. Yuck. There are some nice lifts, some lovely lines, but just...there's nothing wow about it, particularly after last week's Bollywood extravaganza. Scores - 5.5s from the skating judges, 5.0s from the performance judges, for 26.5. Hayley lies that she's happy with that. She says that this week hasn't been about skating, it's been about "Dolly the brolly". Dan explains what a challenge this week has been, and Chris thinks they did very well with a charming piece. Karen says they are a pleasure to watch; Emma admires their control with the prop, but she didn't have any feeling as there was no energy or any spectacular. Robin says it was a different style of skating - not spectacular - and it was a bit "nice" for him, but they did what they were asked.

Next up, Danny and Frankie. Jayne smiles nostalgically with the reminiscence about Danny's toplessness last week. This week, he has a hat and a McFly track. The hat, he and Frankie correctly note, is orange. Danny is not good at catching it. Frankie is unimpressed and has her evil pixie face on. [Isn't that just...Frankie's face? - Steve] There's a bit where the hat is balanced on Frankie's toepick and it keeps slipping off "50 or 60 per cent of the time". That bodes well.

Danny has at least Five Colours On His Waistcoat, and his "shy" acting is appalling. I'm not overly keen on the editing of All About You, either. They seem to have decided to avoid the potential problem of hat-dropping by wearing it most of the time. Oh - no, there are a few throws, which seem to have improved since rehearsal. Hang on - for all Slater's whining about Gary having the hardest prop, didn't they used to have to have two props for each couple? If they try to tell us this is the Best Series Ever, there will be consequences. Scores - 5.0s from everyone except Emma, who gives 5.5, for a total of 25.5. Danny suddenly starts talking in falsetto because he is so very excited, and then says, "Cheers, thank you," to Frankie, which tickles me. Emma thinks his dancing is getting stronger, and that it is very difficult to dance with a hat. Nicky is pleased that the skating is better and that he stayed in character throughout, but advises him to avoid hesitation before each element. Jason mocks him, then Nicky starts shouting, "FASTER! FASTER!" and suddenly it's all gone a bit strange.

While we have a recap of the five couples' routines, I must mention here that the Dancing on Ice game for the Wii is a work of pure insane genius. Clearly the most important point to note is that I have been able to fulfil my dream of skating with my Andrei, albeit in pixellated form, but I'd also like it put on record that I got a 6.0 from Karen in week 3 of competition earlier. Also, for each week of competition you get through, you UNLOCK A NEW OUTFIT TO SKATE IN. I cannot wait for Steve to come round and partner Frankie the ice pixie. [Mentally, I am already there. - Steve]

The skate-off

You know what happened earlier. You know what's going to happen next.


The phone lines have closed, so don't try and vote now, you hear? Meanwhile, here's some backstage gossip. Gary was glad to get the spin in and would like to be in the semi-finals; Danniella can't believe that she's top of the leaderboard; Kieron wants to be in the semi-finals and prove himself; Hayley magnanimously says that Danniella deserves to be at the top of the leaderboard; Danny and Frankie say...something I don't quite get. Something about confidence, maybe?

Jason says that Danniella's performance was "" and had "hairography" and that is why he liked it. Robin refers to "Danniella THE MINX Westbrook" but singles out Kieron and Brianne for best use of prop.

Trailer for DoI Friday like anyone in the actual world ACTUALLY CARES, particularly if they're bragging about Ray Quinn and Chris Fountain as studio guests.

Phil touches his ear. You know what that means? Oh yes, here we go - the couples skating next week are - Danniella and Matthew; Hayley and Dan (Gary has a HELL of a bitchface on at this point)...advert break...Gary and Maria. Oh FUCK OFF. Seriously. FUCK RIGHT OFF. [Remember the good old days when Gary was in the skate-off? *sighs wistfully* - Steve]

So Danny and Frankie and Kieron and Brianne have to skate again, much to everyone's disgust. Jayne lies that everyone is good now; Chris says he doesn't know what else they can all do, and it'll come down to this performance, right now.

And Kieron is really giving it some, more so even than he did earlier. And his spiral leg seems to be higher than before. He and Brianne beam at each other the whole way through. They're so cute. They're a bit Chris-and-Ola, aren't they? Kieron says that he never thought he'd get through to week 10 and if he goes out, he will go to Benidorm tomorrow. Right. Schofe tells him he won't get a better tan. Heh.

Danny and Frankie reprise their routine, but with two hat drops (one of them coming after the hat refuses to budge from Frankie's toe-pick, irony of ironies), and he has a face like THUNDER. Frankie plasters on a smile and wails that it stuck to her toe-pick. Danny tries to assume a "que sera sera" mindset, but it's like someone's DIED or something with a funereal atmosphere on the kiss-and-cry step.

So the judges give their verdict. Karen isn't crying, clutches her hair, and saves Danny; Nicky says that Freddie wins and saves Kieron; Jason says it comes down to the required element and saves Kieron; Emma is gutted for Danny, and saves Kieron; and Robin, even though it doesn't matter, declares, "BENIDORM WILL WAIT!" and saves Kieron. Hooray!

So Danny and Frankie leave the competition, to a montage sountracked by Macho Man. He does a chirpy Cockney list of thank-yous, omitting Frankie, until she presumably kicks him with her blade to remind him.

And that's it! Join Steve next week for the semi-finals! [Without props. Woe. - Steve]

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Zoned out

Movies Week: 7th March 2010

Let's look on the bright side: movies week on Dancing On Ice can't be nearly as painful as movies week on The X Factor, can it? At least I hope it can't.

Last week! Danny had a massive breakthrough, of the kind that stops you from scoring 17.0 for the eighty-ninth week in a row. Mikey, on the other hand, FELL OVER AND GOT A BOO-BOO and so everyone was informed in no uncertain terms that if we didn't vote for him we might as well shove a puppy into a liquidiser. And poor not-famous Emily was finally put out of her misery, fractionally less not-famous than when she began the competition, and a marginally better skater, so hurrah for that. The show honours her memory, by the way, by doing a freeze-frame on her making some kind of squawking bird face and showing lots of shots of her actually-famous mum waving her fist at Jason. It's as good a capsule of her time on the show as you're likely to get in ten seconds, I suppose.

This week, it's stock-footage week! Oh, sorry, that should be "movies week", illustrated lazily by some curtains opening and some popcorn being shovelled. Neither of these events are ON ICE, so I don't see why I should care. Mikey gets to be the MGM lion, and then we're "treated" to a mock cinematic trailer, complete with mock Don LaFontaine voiceover, reminding us of the gender imbalance that we're left with. It's not the most original parody I've seen, but I'll take anything over the faux-Tom Baker voiceover guy who does this sort of shit on The X Factor.

The elaborate film-style set-up continues after the credits, where we're "backstage" at this week's pro dance of 'Luck Be A Lady'. Given that out of the six remaining celebrities, four are male and only two are female, I think this is a very apt choice of song. They've even got a swanky old-cinema style "Dancing On Ice at the movies" lit-up sign above the ice entrance. Fair play to the production team for really committing to this week's theme, I guess. Lord knows what they've got up their sleeves for props week. The guys are all in suits and bowler hats, and the girls are all in swanky, glittery dresses, and the whole thing is very vintage Hollywood, except for the part where it is ON ICE, of course.

After that, we have Holly and Phil. Phil's in a dinner suit complete with dickie-bow, while Holly's in a gorgeous strapless red dress. They get the audience to applaud the opening number, and summon Jayne and Chris over to join them. Holly asks if we're due for a comedy, thriller, or a tragedy tonight. Do films generally get classed as "tragedies"? I thought that was more a theatre sort of genre. Chris says that he thinks there may be a few Oscars given out tonight and...I just worked out why tonight is movies week. Man, I am slow.

This week's required element is a solo spin which, we are informed, involves the celebrity spinning on one foot with the other raised OFF THE ICE. They may not be assisted from their partner, and the spin must be clean and with a minimum of two revolutions. Jayne says everyone's managed to do it at least once during rehearsals, though with the nerves, tonight may be a different story. Chris adds that while two revolutions has been set as the minimum, some celebs may be trying for three or even four.

Our skating stars make their way onto the ice: Danny and Frankie are first, he in a suit, she straight from the set of the I Dream Of Jeannie movie. They pose for fake paparazzi, and Frankie hams it up as you knew she would. [Frankie is increasingly slappable this series. More so even than when she was skating with Chris THE PIE-MAN Fountain. - Carrie] It's the same routine for everyone, by the way - they all do a bit of paparazzi schtick, and they're all wearing their best red carpet duds rather than their outfits for their routines. Danniella and Matthew are next, followed by Mikey and Melanie, then Gary and Maria, then Kieron and Brianne, and finally Hayley and Daniel. Hayley has to actually hold up the ends of her skirt as she skates on, because it seems just long enough to potentially catch her blades and cause her to eat it, big time, which would not be the best entrance.

Time for our first ad break. I'm watching this on ITV Player, so I can't even skip the buggers. In fact, because it's malfunctioning, I've actually had to watch them twice. Suddenly it's much clearer to me how ITV turned a profit last year.

Back on the ice, Phil and Holly introduce the ice panel, during which Nicky is likened to Forrest Gump, which feels like the most inspired comparison ever made on this show. There's a "nobody puts Baby in a corner" gag for Bunto, and Robin is the "Lord of the Rink". Groan.

Holly asks Robin who needs to stand out, and Robin needlessly replies that they all do. He tells her that where the required element is concerned, it should be quality over quantity, and that he doesn't care how many spins people do if they don't do them correctly. The performances, similarly, must be full of character. Jason, who has come tonight dressed as Miles Edgeworth from the Ace Attorney series and will therefore henceforth be referred to as such, says that because these are inspired by iconic films, he wants to see the performances capture the essence of the characters they're portraying. Holly asks him which character he's playing tonight, trying to smother her laughter. Edgeworth says that he is his own character, "not to be replicated." "OBJECTION!" screams Capcom's legal department.

Phil runs through the first few pages of Reality Show Voting for Dummies and we throw to Danny and Frankie. Last week he scored 22.0, which is definitely not 17.0, which meant that he was very happy and Frankie did not have to make her angry weasel face. In rehearsals, he says that while that was all great, this is a brand new week and they have lots of hard work to do. He recognises his music this week instantly as the theme from Rocky, and Jayne tells us that he's going to have to be all butch and that. However, after weeks of not being balletic enough, Danny is now too balletic, and Frankie keeps having to tell him off for being too elegant, which must be frying his tiny little mind. Frankie tells him that he punches like a girl, and he's sent to see fitness trainer Jack Young - his own dad. Danny does some boxing training in a ridiculous flat cap, and says that he hopes he can deliver a knockout performance. See what he did there?

We return to a terrifying close-up of Danny glaring right into the camera, before he skates out throwing a few punches, and Frankie follows him out to pull his robe off and leave Danny entirely topless for the rest of the routine. I guess someone was really keen to end up on Gay Spy this week. FleshWatch: Danny has a horrible tattoo across his shoulders. Bleurgh. He does manage the potentially tricky side of being convincing as a boxer while also being ON ICE (I'm guessing Rocky On Ice would be up there with Carrie: The Musical in terms of terrible production ideas), and he executes his required element cleanly, though it is a little juddery. He bench presses Frankie a bit at the end, and ends in a traditional boxing victory pose. His dad is in the audience, looking proud. Scores: 4.5 across the board for a total of 22.5. Danny's got his robe back on, thankfully. He tells Phil about being surprised to be asked to perform topless, but he did actor stuff and got into character for the role and enjoyed it. Jayne thought it was a great performance, and Chris is pleased that he managed three spins. Holly warns Emma to be a professional and discuss the footwork: Emma says that he had more confidence this week which made his lifts stronger and his focus better, and she thinks he's now a contender. Edgeworth admits to having been distracted by Danny's "incredible torso", and Bunto laughs at him so much that he ends up giggling himself and not being able to get his words out. Bunto's hair is kind of mad this week, by the way. Frankie suggests that Danny skate topless every week from now on. Phil implores us to vote for Danny if we want to see more of him, "though I'm not sure there's much more that you can see". Heh.

Back from the ads, and there's more "hilarious" business with Phil and Holly posing as a couple arriving late for a screening and sneaking into the seats in the middle of the row, complete with giant box of popcorn. Holly steals some of Phil's popcorn, and he slaps her hand a little too vigorously, if you ask me. Poor Holly. Danniella and Matt are next, and of course her VT reminds us that last week she was second on the leaderboard and was thrust unjustly into the skate-off. Boo! Danniella is very happy to still be here, and even more ecstatic that her routine for this week is to 'Summer Nights' from Grease, because she's always wanted to play Sandy and never got the chance to. However, Danniella struggles in rehearsals because she's focusing too hard on learning the steps, which means her performance is suffering, and so she and Matt go to her alma mater, the Sylvia Young Theatre School, where the kids just happen to be doing a Grease workshop with Sylvia herself. [All of the people in this VT also need to be slapped. I'm grouchy this weekend, aren't I? - Carrie] The girls from the school tell Danniella how to play Sandy, which must be quite galling for a professional actress, but Danniella's game and takes it in the made-for-TV spirit that it needs. Sylvia advises Danniella to just lose herself in the character. Danniella hopes she can do her old school justice.

They skate out, and begin their routine. It's pretty cute, and Danniella's playing it nicely prim, but that means she doesn't really get the chance to sell it like she has done in the past with routines like 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me'. However, there are some nice moves, like her suspending herself around Matt's waist while they both mime swimming, though her solo spin right at the end doesn't quite come off, and she only manages about 1.5 rotations. Adam Woodyatt is in the audience, clapping wildly for her. Scores: Karen 4.0, Nicky 3.5, Edgeworth 4.0, Emma 4.0, Robin 4.0 for a total of 19.5. Danniella's a bit breathless, and focused on her mistakes. She couldn't get her leg out of the float spin because she couldn't see, and she admits that it's getting harder every week. Jayne says that some people are more suited to certain elements, but she thought Danniella was a great Sandy. Karen says that Danniella committed to the character and had good footwork, though her marks were brought down by an incomplete element and the aforementioned error in the float spin. Robin thought she would be tentative and not delivering her usual confidence, and says that it's not that her scores are going down, just that the difficulty level is going up. Okay then. He tells her "don't give up on yourself. Yet." Which sounds rather ominous. Bunto tells her that she did something every little girl dreams of - skating, while wearing pink. No, really, that's what she said. Nutter. [I was embarrassed for her. If she'd said "playing Sandy in Grease", that would have at least made more sense, because every girl wants to do that. At least until she turns 16 or so and realises Rizzo is much better. - Carrie] She misses Danniella's spark, and doesn't want her to let last week put her off. Danniella says last week was hard, and she could hear her little girl crying when she was in the skate-off. That sound just then was my heart breaking, by the way.

Coming up: Gary is not a trained dancer. Who knew?

We return, and Phil says that last week was a scary movie for Mikey Graham. Mikey says that all week he'd been psyching himself up that he had to "do good". So presumably after the show he went out to pick up some litter and enrol as a Police Community Support Officer. This week has been busy for Mikey, as he's been doing his day job and promoting Boyzone's new single. He was surprised by Phil and Holly on This Morning playing his music for this week for him, which turns out to be Ronan Keating's 'When You Say Nothing At All', from Notting Hill. I bet you anything the person who picked this originally thought it was actually a Boyzone record because, really, who can tell the difference? Anyway, Ronan thinks it's hilarious, and begs everyone at home to vote for Mikey because "if he goes out to my song, I'll never hear the end of it". Chris says that Mikey's got a lot on this week, as he's feeling a bit tender on top of everything. Mel says that the pressure's on because they've only had two days of training this week.

Their routine is pleasant enough, but a bit uninspiring. I find it rather telling that the biggest cheer of the whole thing comes from an amazing solo spin by Melanie, during which Mikey is just skating around her in a broad circle. Mikey's own solo spin comes in right at the end, and he manages to complete his rotations fairly smoothly. Gubba tells us that Mikey also sang in "the Irish Eurovision Song Contest" this week and came second. Scores: Karen 4.0, Nicky 4.0, Edgeworth 3.5, Emma 4.0, Robin 3.5 for a total of 19.0. Mikey is happy with that score, given his busy week. He says that last week was tough due to the fall and the low score, but he's climbing back up this week. He adds that it was oddly comforting to skate to one of Ronan's songs because he's heard it so often. Jayne thinks he did well, and might as well just turn up next week without any practice. Nicky says that they got an extra 0.5 from him for the spin at the end, and that their partnership is good, but he wants to see better skating, because he's seen Mikey do better than he's doing now. Karen says the spin was very strong, but she still sees nerves in his legs. She thinks next week will be better. Edgeworth thought it was an all right performance, but is not happy that Mikey is still looking down at the ice during week nine, and thought he lacked interaction with Mel during what should have been a romantic piece. Phil advises Mikey to take his shirt off next week.

Next: ugh. Gary Lucy. Last week he was sloppy, and was given bizarre Winter Olympic-themed choreography. This week he's dancing to 'You Never Can Tell' from Pulp Fiction. It turns out that Gary cannot do the twist, presumably because it is entirely beneath him, like everything else he's been asked to do on this show. Gary: "I've never trained as a dancer." Everyone else in the entire universe: "IT'S THE FUCKING TWIST, SHITHEAD, WHAT PLANET ARE YOU ON?" Jayne and Chris are amazed that he can't do it. Gary calls on his "friend", choreographer Kevin Adams, for assistance. I use inverted commas there because I think we all know that having a choreographer for a friend is entirely beneath Gary, right? Kevin reiterates that Gary does not dance, ON ICE or otherwise.

Gary's dancing is remarkably dad-like throughout the routine (possibly because he is a father and has a daughter who will be in the audience waving an I HEART MY DADDY card at the camera like the good little plot accessory that she is). I don't get to see his required element properly, because ITV Player is a useless fucking cunt-sniffing piece of shit. And that's on a good day. It's not included in the replay either. What the hell is the replay for, if not that? Eventually I manage to scroll it back to that part of the programme, and he fucks it up, barely even making one rotation. As predicted, there's his daughter in the audience. Scores: Karen 4.5, Nicky 5.0, Edgeworth 3.0, Bunto and Robin 4.0 for a total of 20.5. Gary really enjoyed this routine and it brought him out of his shell. He laments that his spin didn't work, and says that he tried it again when the cameras weren't on him and it worked perfectly then, and he wishes he could have another go at it. Me too: preferably in the skate-off. He reiterates once more that he is not a natural dancer. Yawn. Chris says that he thought everyone was born being able to twist, but Gary proved him wrong. Heh. He was amazed that he messed the spin up, because he'd been doing it right all week, and if he'd got it right, it would've been fives across the board. "Not from [Edgeworth], though," Gary says snottily. On cue, Holly's with the judges, and Nicky and Edgeworth are bickering. Edgeworth says it's because of their wildly differing scores, and Holly's all, "yes, nimrod, I get that, but why are your scores so different?" At which point there's silence, because this is pointless drama for the sake of pointless drama. Eventually Nicky explains that he lost 0.5 for the spin, but he loved it because the skating was of such high quality, and he moves out OVER THE ICE. Edgeworth throws his two penn'orth in and says that there were a lot of timing issues - that Gary started off very well, and then he lost it. This mixture of compliments and criticism confuses the audience, who do not know whether to boo or cheer. Robin, as "head chairperson" (thanks, Holly!) is asked who's right, and he says, "Both of them, which is why I came out in the middle with a 4.0." Heh. He agrees with Edgeworth that the characterisation fluctuated, but agrees with Nicky that the skating was generally excellent. Edgeworth screams over and over again that it was dull. Phil scolds him to shut up. [It was dull, though. Another lame-ass routine. - Carrie]

Over-midway leaderboard: Danny and Frankie in the lead, Gary and Maria second, Danniella and Matthew third, Mikey and Melanie fourth.

Back after the ads, and in an entirely different programme on ITV Player (why? Buggered if I know) are Kieron and Brianne, in matching hot pink raincoats. Well, I guess someone had to balance out all that butchness Danny was having to perform this week. We recall Kieron's nasty fall from last week that left him with a fat lip, but he still managed to pull a decent performance out of the bag. This week's routine is to the theme from The Pink Panther, which he thinks will be drawing on his acting skills. Jayne confirms that it's a mix of acting and character work. Kieron says that the thing that's stopping him moving up the leaderboard is "five other contestants, who are amazing". Jayne says this is a critical week for Kieron if he wants to be a contender. Kieron is nervous at not having broken the 20.0 barrier yet, and thinks he won't deserve to stay in if he doesn't do so this week.

Their routine is heavily mime-y, but it's well-executed by both, who've got the tone just right. His solo spin doesn't quite make the full two revolutions by my reckoning, but it's pretty darn close. Gubba commends Kieron's interpretation of the rule of Inspector Clouseau. Scores: Karen 4.0, Nicky 4.5, Edgeworth 4.0, Emma 4.5, Robin 4.0 for a total of 21.0. Kieron's thrilled, naturally. He says that he nearly threw in the towel backstage earlier because everyone was so good tonight. Phil asks him if he struggles with confidence, and Kieron says yes, he does, but now he's got 21.0 and will be confident from now on. Heh. Chris says that when they gave him the character and the pink jackets, he said, "I can do this!" I'll bet he did. Robin says it's not so much the pink panther as it is the tortoise and the hare, and "the tortoise is coming through big time." [Are tortoises not too SLOW OVER THE ICE, though? - Carrie] He loves that Kieron was the first celebrity of the night to come out and deliver with confidence - there were some technical glitches, but he loved the attack and energy. Emma thought it was lots of fun, and she thinks Kieron is growing every week and filling his performance with character.

Audience tickets competition. More adverts.

Back from the ads, and Hayley and Daniel are closing the show, and judging by their outfits, they'll be doing 'Jai Ho' from Slumdog Millionaire. Chris explains that it's a contemporary twist on the usual stylised Bollywood dancing. They call in some help from Bollywood choreographer Manila Shah, who explains that it has to be crisp and graceful but also clean. She thinks it was challenging for them to get the synchronisation perfect. Hayley was asked to do three rotations, but has decided to try for four, which Jayne thinks is typical of her - pushing herself. However, she's struggling to perfect it, and getting annoyed with herself. Dan likens her to a Catherine wheel when this happens, and says that the best thing to do is just to let her get it out of her system.

The routine goes really well: they're very snappy and synchronised, and they're both really intense during the performance. Hayley's four solo spins come together (hilariously, behind her you can see Edgeworth pumping his arms, like, "yessss!!") The rest of the routine comes off pretty much flawlessly, and Gubba is sure it's worth a six. In fact, it's worth five of them - every judge gives her top marks, for a total of 30.0. Hayley goes mad when the scores come in, and Phil points out to her that the judges are giving her a standing ovation. She's pretty much speechless, so Dan speaks on her behalf, saying that she gives all she's got and a little bit more. Hayley recovers enough to say that the four spins have only ever worked once, "and that was by accident!" Chris is impressed with her progression, that she now has the skating and precision to match her performance skills. Robin says it's the first time the panel have spontaneously stood up for a contestant - he thought it was good in rehearsals this afternoon but didn't think Hayley was quite ready to fully deliver on it, and yet she did. Edgeworth says he knew she was in the zone the second she arrived on the ice, and he knew it was going to be electrifying, and it was. He thanks her for one of the best performances they've ever had. Nicky says he can feel the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end, because it was clipped, and sure, and deft.

That's everyone, so from here, it's just the leaderboard (Hayley top, obviously, Danny second, Kieron third, Gary fourth, Danniella fifth and Mikey sixth), the video recap, and then we're out of there!

The Skate-Off

Six couples danced ON ICE for our votes, but one of them must leave, etc etc. You know how this bit goes by now.

Phil reminds us that we have mere picoseconds left to vote for our favourites if we haven't already done so. The lines then close, and we jump straight into the recap of the performance show, which, as Holly points out, gives us another chance to see Danny with his shirt off. Get that screen capture software ready, folks!

Danny was shirtless and more confident, according to Bunto, and Edgeworth was hypnotised by his torso. Danny feels he made the right decision in going topless. Danniella skated in pink like every young girl wants to, but she cocked up her required element. She thinks her feedback was fair - she's trying her hardest, and she hopes it's good enough. Mikey skated to a Ronan Keating song and got good marks for his spin, but Karen still sees nerves in his legs. He admits that he's still trying to conquer those nerves, even though it's week nine. Nicky and Edgeworth bickered over Gary's routine, and Gary vows to keep trying to improve every week. Robin admired Kieron's confidence during his routine, and Kieron can't believe he scored 21.0, because he expected to get 15.0. Hayley landed a perfect score and received effusive praise from the judges, which she thinks is like winning the biggest Oscar in the world.

Holly's with the judges and asks Robin who gets the best supporting role award, and Robin says that the best leading man tonight was Kieron, which feels like the answer to an entirely different question, but hey, he's praising one of my favourites, so I'll keep quiet. Emma's asked who struggled tonight, and she says that while she loves Mikey's performances because they are captivating and "honest" (y'what, now?), he doesn't have as much content as the others. Edgeworth is asked who surprised him, and he was surprised that they gave straight sixes out at all, he was pleasantly surprised by Kieron, and disappointed in Gary.

Ben and Coleen's show is still going, despite the fact that it is terrible and never seems to actually have any adverts in it, therefore how is ITV making any money on it? Text us your answers, at a cost of 75p plus your usual messaging fee.

Phil's ready with the results *touches ear*, and the following couples are safe in no particular order: Hayley and Daniel, Gary and Maria, Danny and Frankie, and - on the other side of the break - Kieron and Brianne, leaving Danniella and Matthew in the skate-off once more, this time facing Mikey and Melanie. Holly asks Jayne and Chris what they need: Danniella needs to nail that solo spin this time, while Mikey needs to lose his nerves, which Chris admits is easier said than done.

Danniella and Matthew return TO THE ICE. It's a more confident performance the second time around, and she does a better job of the solo spin, though her dismount from the ending float spin is still slightly shaky. Chris congratulates her on managing to complete the solo spin, and Danniella says that she just decided to have "the best time" and if that was her last dance, she's more than happy with that because she's achieved more than she ever thought she would.

Mikey and Melanie come back, and his skating is still a bit nervy, and he seems to lack control a bit this time around - I don't know if I'm remembering it wrong, but it feels like he's not quite following the same route he did first time round. His solo spin is good once more, and he and Mel finish with smiles on their faces. Jayne compliments him on another good spin, and Mikey says he was happy enough with it, and that when you feel you have nothing to lose, you end up having a really good time. Mikey! A place in Dancing On Ice is not nothing!

The two couples skate back onto the ice, and Mikey slips as they arrive on the spot, but manages to recover his balance. Mel giggles. Karen says it's a difficult choice, but votes to save Danniella despite a weak required element. Nicky thought they both relaxed more, but was more moved by Mikey. Edgeworth thinks they had two great skaters in the skate-off, and they both gave great performances, but for him, nailing the required element was key, so he saves Mikey. Bunto thought both were great and found it difficult but votes for Danniella. Is this the first time all series that head judge Robin's vote has actually counted? Blimey. Robin says they both upped their game, "but one spin does not a performance make", and saves Danniella, who is absolutely flabbergasted. You can tell she really thought she was going home after losing Nicky and Edgeworth's votes. [I really love Robin. I particularly love the way he says cutting things so mildly. - Carrie]

Mikey and Mel skate over to Phil and Holly. "This is precisely what Ronan didn't want!" Phil reminds him, to which Mikey responds, "He says it best when he says nothing at all." Hee! We see Mikey's best bits, which involves Mikey falling over a lot. Aw, this reminds me how I genuinely thought he was a contender in the early rounds, until it somehow all went a bit wrong for him. We're reminded of Nicky's bizarre 1920s-style praise in which he complimented Mikey for presenting his lady beautifully, and then Mikey's performances went downhill a bit. Back in the studio, Mikey has had the most amazing journey (drink!), saying it has given him a magnificent feeling, and he wants to thank "Stephen up there" and the rest of Boyzone. Phil assures him that Stephen would have been very proud of him. This is feeling very The X Factor suddenly. Chris says it's been a pleasure having Mikey on the show, and that he's taught them a lot too.

Mikey and Mel head out for their lap of honour. There are no hints given about next week's theme, but surely props week cannot be far away? I hope so. See you then!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Atack over the ice

No theme whatsoever week
Tx: 28th February 2010

Last week, there was ANARCHY on the ice, and Angela Rippon used to have a boyfriend with hair like Kieron's. Jason was rude to people. Nicky SPOKE THE TRUTH for once ON ICE. Sharron was utterly stitched up, and I lost my second beloved Eastern European boy skater. This week there is no theme at all, unless you count people falling over, or something. Ooh, some injury porn, as Kieron spurts blood from a split lip. It's Sunday night, and this is Dancing On Ice!

Here are Phil and Holly, who is in a beautiful low-cut satin gown with only half her breasts contained. And then here is Katherine sodding Jenkins and Andrew sodding Lloyd Webber, performing Love Never Dies from the new West End flop of the same title. Now, I saw the show on Thursday night, and won't give away any spoilers, but I don't think I'm giving anything away if I reveal that Sierra Boggess, who performed all her songs without consonants, which is some feat, is significantly better at singing than Katherine Jenkins. Oh, and here are Jayne and Chris skating round for a bit. And then there's a key change. And some of the pros skating round holding bed sheets. Wtf? It finishes, Lloyd Webber does that weird clunky handclapping he always does when he's feeling smug.

Jayne and Chris join Phil and Holly, and lie that they enjoyed skating to that caterwauling. The required element this week is an unassisted jump. This means NO ASSISTANCE and JUMPING. Seriously, that's what the exposition is. Nicky Slater-level comprehension here. Jayne hopes everyone will do well. Chris calls it a leap of faith, but I'm not sure he intends the pun, and says that everyone wants to be in the final.

So let's meet our Skating Stars - Mikey and Mel; Danniella and Matt; Kieron and Brianne; NotFamous Emily and Fred; Danny and Frankie; Hayley and Dan (who's looking increasingly gay); and Gary and Maria. And the Ice Panel - Karen (back on the end); Nicky (whose knowledge of ICE is second only to Pingu's apparently. HAHAHAHA!) [even more amazing - Nicky's hurt look when he genuinely thought Holly believed Pingu to be more knowledgeable than he is - Steve]; Jason; Emma; and HOORAY ROBIN IS BACK HOORAY! He does an adorable fake-out when Holly mentions that it was 30 years ago when he won his Olympic gold. Love him TOO much. He wants PROPER JUMPING. Fnar.

First up, Mikey and Mel. He says he is tired of basic competence and wants to be better. Chris and Jayne comment on his enthusiasm. I must comment on Mel wearing some kind of weird bra over her sweatshirt. Mikey is intending to pull his socks up and put his skates on, and Jayne says that the song they've given him is not a comedy one. Chris says that Mikey must be faster OVER THE ICE (not SLOW OVER THE ICE which is the worst thing anyone can ever be, obviously).

They're skating to Dancing In The Dark. And OK, these knee slides they've put in just look like he's fallen over. Oh, no, wait, he has in fact fallen over. He's clearly concentrating very hard and Mel seems to be leading a lot of the time. The jump passes without incident, if rather unsynchronised. They look really pissed off at the end. Scores - Karen 3.0, Nicky 2.5, Jason 2.5, Emma 3.0 and Robin 2.5 for a total of 13.5. Mel says that during the dress rehearsal Mikey took a nasty tumble and he is injured; Phil and Chris support this reading of events, but to his credit Mikey just says, "Meh, it is what it is." Robin says that in the afternoon's practice he thought Mikey had turned a corner, but there were lots of mistakes throughout and he needs to put that behind him. Jason says it looked like he was dancing in the dark with all the stumbles. What? Karen says that is not the Mikey she knows, and he will be back next week. Well, that's that sorted out then. Thanks, Karen!

After the break - more injury porn!

Danniella and Matt seem to be dressed as skating principal boys awol from a production of Aladdin. This week they are skating lots of little steps and it is testing Danniella's coke-addled memory. And also her right knee. She says that at the start of every session her knees give her gyp. Um, shouldn't she be warming up before she skates? Do some pilates, Westbrook. It's the way forward.

They're skating to kd lang's Rose Garden. As one might expect, there's more line-dancing-esque choreography packed in there; this is clearly Chris's latest penchant. Some of this looks really lame and messy, particularly the "saddle lift", though the one at the end where she's hooked round his neck is excellent. And oh my, they're miming guns. Scores - Karen 5.0, Nicky 4.5, Jason 3.5, Emma 4.5, Robin 4.5 for a total of 22.0. They are happy. Danniella says she ricked her hamstring on Friday night and at the age of 36 she is lucky to be out there at all. Chris and Jayne are significantly older than that and they can skate. And Frankie is 36 too. NO LAME EXCUSES, WESTBROOK. Jayne thanks her for her hard work. Unlike Sharron, who did not work and dared to cross the might of Torvill and Dean. Emma says it lacked sparkle, possibly because of the increased content. Karen thought it was special and precise. Jason makes some dancing criticisms and the audience boo like mentals.

Last week Kieron thinks his routine "went amazing". Jayne thinks he could be a contender. Brianne says he's got to do two half-axles in a row, which Kieron claims is a full axle. And then Kieron smashes his face up. They watch it on the CCTV and his face bounces off the ice. [Why doesn't the show have its own footage of this? Bunch of amateurs. - Steve] Brianne tells him he's going to have to go to A&E and get a stitch put in his lip. So he does. Then he decides he's not going to rehearse the jumps again until show day, which is clearly a shit plan, and sure enough, in dress rehearsal he forgets how fast he should be skating and falls over. Sigh.

They're dancing to Careless Whisper, and one of the strengths of this partnership is that they clearly get on so well. Kieron isn't smiling, but that might be because his mouth hurts. It's a beautiful routine and the jumps work well. Scores - Karen 4.0, Nicky 3.5, Jason 3.5, Emma 4.0, Robin 3.5 for a total of 18.5. Kieron says this week has been hell, and he ripped the scab off his lip because he is so vain. EW. Brianne says that she has admired his bravery this week. Ooh, hello, Jayne is all dressed up and looks beautiful. Nicky says something about inner steel and character and COVERING THE ICE. Emma enjoys watching Kieron's speed ON THE ICE. Robin also likes his speed, and was worried when he noticed Kieron's shaking. Then Phil mocks their fake tans.

Next, NotFamous Emily and Fred. She talks to the camera; Fred plasters on a grin and stares into space. Poor Fred. Chris and Jayne have put in a huge lift, which Emily does not believe is possible. Fred demonstrates with Karen. MOAR KAREN SKATING PLZ. Chris goes through a list of things that could go wrong with the lift, the little ray of sunshine that he is.

They're skating to Da Doo Ron Ron, and they have a really dinky routine, with some speedy footwork (also, Fred deserves a medal for pretending that he likes Emily). She even manages the lift at the end, letting go of Fred's shoulders, and though she looks like she's going to fall over and vomit when she's back on the ground, she still manages it. Kate Robbins bursts into tears, either through pride or terror. Scores - Karen 3.5, Nicky 4.0, Jason 3.0, Emma 4.0, Robin 4.0 for a total of 18.5, her highest so far. Fred claims that the wobble after the lift was his fault because he spun faster than they have done in rehearsal. Emily is all squealy and says she's really enjoying it now. Jayne says that her increased confidence is noticeable. Karen says that in that lift, you know you're in great hands with Fred, and then does a funny little reminiscent smile. Jason says he is annoyed because he doesn't see a performance from her. So why is he giving her 3.0 then? Kate Robbins is shaking her fist at the camera. Emma says she disagrees and Emily has improved. Jason interjects, "No." Oh, shut up. Wanker. [Emily was still at the bottom of the pack, but to pretend that her performance level hadn't improved from how she started out was beyond ludicrous. So Jason can have an extra helping of "shut up" from me too. - Steve]

After the break, we get to see some Mikey injury porn, showing us his fall pre-show, which is a hell of a crash, and just in case we missed it, we get to see it in slow motion. Mikey's off in physio, anyway. [This all felt far too gratuitous for my liking. Either show that during Mikey's section, or don't show it at all. - Steve]

Danny and Frankie get 17.0 every week and Jason tells him that his movements are unfinished while Nicky tells him to be faster OVER THE ICE. So Danny and Karen sit down and watch the old routines and rip them to bits, and then she makes him skate with big elastic bands joining his arms and blades. Seriously.

Oh dear me, they're skating to Yeah Yeah, which will bring back bad memories for anyone who ever watched The X Factor. I really don't think Danny is much of a dancer, he doesn't seem to be on the beat, whereas what Frankie's doing makes sense with the music. The skating is fine, and he lands the jumps, there's just no musicality. Scores - Karen 4.5, Nicky 4.5, Jason 4.0, Emma 4.5, Robin 4.5 for a total of 22.0, which is NOT 17.0! Danny chokes back tears, the wimp. Karen is pleased that all the detail is now in his performance. Nicky says that this afternoon he skated it faster, but the jump tonight was better.

Next up, Hayley has been struggling. O RLY? Let's see. Last week she stumbled because of the nerves and the pressure of being the best one. This week's routine needs speed over the ice, and she fears that it is too fast. Dan is getting pissed off with her.

They are skating to Don't Stop Believin'. Seriously, is this an X Factor 2009 tribute week? Oh, it's the hideous Glee version. The camera work here sucks; you can't see their big lift because they go for the long shot. It all looks very neat and tidy, anyway. Gubba lies that maybe Hayley and Dan will get married. [That was weird. - Steve] Scores - Karen 5.5, and everyone else 5.0 for a total of 25.5. Hayley says that she feels the pressure more every week and she feels it in her legs. Dan says he will do everything he can to make Hayley perform. Fnar. Robin says the skating now matches the performance, and calls her "young lady". Emma loved it and says they are lucky to have each other, and appreciates that they never forget about their audience.

Time to plug a competition, and then another break, after which Gary Lucy is to skate, as if anyone cares. Jayne and Chris pretend that Gary is amazing at skating, while admitting that he is shit at acting. They are doing a routine that is a tribute to the Winter Olympics, which looks both terrible and amazing. In dress rehearsal Gary claims fatigue and falls over. Fair enough.

Anyway, they are skating to The Race. How many sports can we spot in this routine? Skiing, speed skating (with some wobbly jumps there), figure skating, and...fuck knows what else. This is a stupid routine. Then we are reminded that Gary has a daughter. Scores - Karen 4.5, Nicky 4.5, the others 4.0 for a total of 21.0. Gary is exhausted; Maria nearly got smacked in the face on the way round. Chris says Gary had some good style moments and recovered well from a stumble. Nicky shouts at him for skating too fast, or something. Jason says it was not an easy routine. Robin agrees, and is gentlemanly about not mentioning how many years Maria has been skating for. LOVE him.

Right, that's it, and the lines are open! What will happen?

The skate-off

Earlier tonight, these couples danced ON ICE for our votes. Who's going this week? With all the injury porn to win our sympathy, I think we can guarantee that bottom-of-the-leaderboard Mikey will be safe. Anyway, let's see.

Mikey talks about his injury "getting into his head", and from the physio table he promises that if he's in the skate-off he'll damn well skate-off WITH A BANG. Danniella wants to impress Jason. Kieron and Brianne are adorably camp. Fred is proud of Emily, who has performed her best ever. Danny and Frankie are really happy. Dan and Hayley are happy with their scores, and intend to go onwards and upwards. Gary felt pretty urgent but clearly that did not come across.

Robin is pleased that everyone is willing to take the risks, but thinks tonight belonged to Danny. Jason says that Emily and Mikey disappointed. Emma thinks Danny and Kieron upped their games this week. Also, don't forget that Ben and Coleen are dreadful on Friday nights if you're really short of things to do.

Phil has the results in his ear, and the couples skating next week are - Danny and Frankie; Hayley and Dan; Gary and Maria; Kieron and Brianne; (pause for ads); Mikey and Mel (who promptly weeps).

Oh, guys, I think we know how this is going to go, yes? Danniella and Matt v NotFamous Emily and Fred. Danniella and Matt go first; afterwards she says she is too old to skate that routine twice in a night. Emily and Fred go second, and the spin is much more secure this time; afterwards she starts her goodbyes and is a bit weepy and dull. Anyway, time to get the decision confirmed - Karen is crying (hooray!) and saves Danniella; Nicky doesn't want anyone to go but saves Emily based on Danniella making four mistakes [oh, NICKY - Steve]; Jason saves Danniella; Emma says that Emily is a sweetheart but saves Danniella; and Robin says Danniella was technically more secure and saves her.

So while Emily gets herself together, time for a montage of her squealing and Fred pretending he doesn't want to slap her. Emily says afterwards that she has the best partner and a friend for life (presumably not the same person); Fred says she has a bright future ahead of her (without him). Time for a lap of honour as Kate Robbins cries in the audience. Next week - more skating! And Steve will tell you all about it!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Starting together. Or, indeed, apart.

Top 8: 21st February 2010

Last week: it was Valentine's Day, and there was romance in the air! Well, manufactured and entirely hollow romance, admittedly. Which is about right for Valentine's Day, surely? Michael Ball joined the judging panel, and Carrie was consequently very excited. Hayley got 26.0, the highest score of the series, so there was obviously love to spare in her direction, but the love died for Dr Hilary Jones, and he was sent home. This week: we're halfway through the competition (THANK GOD), and pretty much everyone who remains is trying to paint him- or herself as the dark horse of the contest, which has led to the editors sticking the William Tell Overture on the soundtrack and your recapper wondering which of the remaining contestants has the most equine features. It's something I'll be considering over the course of tonight's episode, anyway. Oh, and Gary Lucy is injured. Hooray!

Post-titles, Phil and Holly are in the house, and Holly's looking very Dita Von Teese this week. Phil says that it's a shame that they don't have a doctor in the house any more, due to the number of injuries this week. Holly gives Amy Williams a slightly patronising shout-out for her Winter Olympic gold, while someone in the audience picks precisely the wrong time to shuffle in his seat as the director cuts to a camera right next to him, and all this talk of Olympic gold is the perfect opportunity to introduce Jayne and Chris, who will be doing a routine to 'Haven't Met You Yet' by X Factor favourite Mickey Bubbles. I'm not a big fan of Jayne's blue and pink dress, which I think is all wrong for her colouring, but it's a pleasure to see them as always, though frankly after watching footage on YouTube of Robin Cousins back when he was skating in the Olympics, my expectations of the sort of skating I expect this show to deliver me have increased significantly. [You're welcome, sweetie! Head Judge Robin Cousins is wonderful. - Carrie]

The audience goes wild, and Phil and Holly beckon Jayne and Chris over to join them. First things first, we learn of this week's required element, which is an individual opening and closing position, which the contestants must invent for themselves. Chris says that it's been fascinating to see what they've come up with, as there have been some very distinctive ideas of what constitutes as an original start position. Jayne says that the real competitive spirit is coming out, and we can look forward to some great performances tonight.

The skating stars arrive: Kieron and Brianne are on first, and the "mint" costume he promised us last week appears to be that of a gay punk; Sharron and Pavel are next, with an eye-catching entrance; then Danniella and Matthew, both in searing tones of orange; then Danny and Frankie, who has a neckerchief on and is presumably off to the Grand Ole Opry after this; then Hayley and Dan, in shiny silver and white, then Not Famous Emily and Fred, who are in pink again; then Gary and Maria, who are in mint green (unless that's the costume Kieron thought he had this week?) and finally Mikey and Melanie, who are in black and silver with a lot of fringing. And as anyone who watched Strictly last year knows, you must ALWAYS beware of the fringing.

It's time for a break, but when we return, Phil promises the intro of a new guest judge, and some injury porn. Hooray!

We return, and the ice panel are in different seats again: there's a news theme to their intros, because Angela Rippon is this week's guest judge, presumably on the basis of her Come Dancing connections. Karen is still head judge, by the way. Angela says she's looking for confidence in the skating and performances, particularly in the relationship between the celebs and the pro skaters. Karen mentions that it's the 30th anniversary of Robin winning Olympic gold, and everyone applauds our absent head judge, and then she talks about "survival of the fittest", and how there aren't many fit ones left, while staring into the wrong camera. Holly congratulates Emma on the receipt of her pointless Brit award, and then we're back to Phil, who's explaining how the voting works, for anyone who's just returned from a cave somewhere in the wilderness. [Honestly, this show is a fucking farce. Robin, come back! - Carrie]

Kieron and Brianne are our first couple, and were proud of their performance from last week. This week's routine is to 'Ever Fallen In Love' by the Buzzcocks, which neither Kieron or Brianne have heard before. Seriously: what is wrong with this year's contestants? [At least they didn't tell us that they are TOO YOUNG to have heard music before the years of their birth. - Carrie] Kieron rolls off the judges' table and hits his head, but unfortunately it does not knock any music history into his brain. To educate themselves, the pair go to a Buzzcocks gig in York, where they are told that punk is about rebellion, and you seriously cannot talk about "rebellion" and then go on to talk about "ice rinks". It's just silly. Kieron and Brianne practise their routine in the mosh pit, which I'm sure is delightful for all of the aging rebels around them. Kieron says that they are not dancing ON ICE this week, but rather punkin' ON ICE. Nicky Slater is unavailable for comment at this exact moment.

Kieron and Brianne start lying poised on the ice in a crawling position, like wild felines of some description. Kieron's attempt at "punk rock", bless him, is not especially convincing, and his skating is a little shaky in parts this week - there's one lift early on in the programme where he appears to lose his grip on Brianne and almost drops her (though it looks a bit more stable in the replay, so perhaps I was just overly attentive to that bit), and he has a bit of a stumble while skating backwards. Still, there is some air guitar which he seems to be enjoying an awful lot, and they end by hurling themselves at the panel's desk before sliding down the sides back onto the ice. Gubba makes a lot of inappropriate comments about Brianne's attire. Scores: Emma 4.0, Nicky 4.0, Angela 4.0, Jason 3.5, Karen 4.0 for a total of 19.5. Kieron is thrilled, but suspects the scores are just for his hair. Phil asks him about the stumble, and Kieron says he thought he was a goner, but thanks Brianne for being so supportive and encouraging. Phil rolls his eyes at Kieron's lack of punk knowledge, and Chris praises Kieron for coming out and really attacking the performance.

Holly's with the judges, and Karen says it was a great performance - she liked the speed and energy, and thinks it was one of his best performances yet. Jason says it would've been a 4.0 but for the stumble, but he loved the performance, and particularly the start and end positions. He even thought Kieron's flaily limbs worked for this performance, but cautions him to be careful with putting Brianne down after the lifts. Angela says that she used to have a boyfriend with hair like that, and awards Kieron her "gold star for achievement", because she's amazed that he's achieved this level of skating and performance without any prior experience. Oooh, Angela's done her homework, everyone! Clearly a journalist to the core. [All the best journalists have gold stars to give out. - Carrie]

Sharron and Pav are next. Chris says that he doesn't think Sharron likes uptempo routines, but they need to show her diversity - so this week's routine is to 'I Want Candy'. Sharron doesn't really like the song, but has at least heard of it. She's a bit reluctant to dance this week's routine, and cites her old swimming injuries and her bad back for her trouble picking up the steps. Rehearsals go slowly, but Chris and Jayne are determined to make the routine work for her. Jayne says that they made a few simplifications to the routine on Monday, but then they discover that Sharron has changed the music and now wants to do a slow piece. Sharron says she wants to do something less taxing, which is surely the kiss of death on this show? She sulks a bit in rehearsals, and in all honesty, this is not a flattering VT for her. Chris says that he thinks she's playing it safe.

They begin with Sharron off the ice and Pavel on it, and 'Stay' by Shakespear's Sister kicks in. Pavel lifts her from her standing position onto the ice, and off they go. Sharron's face is again one of grim determination, and her leg lines are not, in all honesty, amazing. Someone has done a truly horrendous editing job on the track, by the way. As if not winning Popstar To Operastar weren't enough of a kick in the face for Marcella Detroit, ITV has to go and do this too. Sharron does seem to spend quite a lot of the routine on Pav's shoulders or in his arms. Scores are in: Emma 3.0, Nicky 3.5, Angela 3.0, Jason 3.0, Karen 3.5 for a total of 16.0. Phil addresses the controversy of the music switch: Sharron clarifies that she really wanted to do the original programme, but her shoulder couldn't quite live up to it after doing a fast number last week. She also adds that by "less taxing" she meant in reference to her shoulder, rather than in general. Chris says that the performance was good, when the mitigating circumstances are taken into account. Nicky is similarly impressed: he liked the consistent speed, and the extensions coming out of the lifts and movements. He thinks it worked overall, but there were no surprises. He hopes that she'll do something more surprising in future, because sometimes being pushed by your coach is good for you. Emma rather snippily says that she thought Sharron would be one of the most competitive and yet here she is changing her routine because she can't do it - she thinks Sharron's skating has improved, but her routines are getting very samey, and thinks Sharron should listen to Chris and Jayne if she's still here after this week. I think Emma was just stroking her random Brit award when Sharron was explaining why she couldn't do the routine she was given.

After another ad break, Phil says it's been a good week for Danniella Westbrook, because it turns out Sam didn't kill Archie. No, bloody Stacey did, and that was such a fucking swizz. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN JACK OR RONNIE. Although maybe my opinions are coloured because those were the two I had money on. Because they were the most dramatically satisfying storyline prospects, but apparently, those in the know at Elstree decided that Stacey should have MOAR DRAMA in her life, because being pregnant and bipolar isn't enough. ANYway, Danniella was thrilled to be called the dark horse of the contest by Karen last week - she thinks Hayley has set the bar really high, but it just gives the rest of them something to work towards. Their song for this week is 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me', and Danniella says that they're aiming for some of Dusty's inherent sense of drama. They've created a character for her as an awkward, clingy girl, and she's also been given a taxing lift to do this week: given her history of having her nose rebuilt, Danniella is worried about having her face so close to the ice, because if her nose breaks, they probably can't re-set it. Eeep. Full marks to her for addressing that side of her history, though, rather than just trying to paint over it in broad strokes as I thought they might've done.

She begins by clinging onto the entrance tunnel and emoting fiercely, before skating over to Matthew and glomping him. It's quite a nicely comical routine, with him trying to get away from her, and her being all sulky and jittery. Her skating's really come on, too - she's very smooth OVER THE ICE. There are some lovely lifts, and Danniella's acting her heart out. The float spin at the end doesn't quite go to plan - she sort of bumps over the ice a few times before he manages to get her airborne, but when he finally does, it looks great. Gubba makes a random Fatal Attraction reference which doesn't really make sense in the given context. Scores: Emma 4.5, Nicky 4.5, Angela 5.0, Jason 5.0, Karen 5.0 for a total of 24.0. Danniella thinks she ate too many roast potatoes today, because Matt couldn't get her off the ground. Everyone laughs. Danniella says she's never worried about anything Chris and Jayne give her to do, because she knows they trust that she can do it. Hmmmm. I wonder if that was aimed at anyone in particular? Chris is clearly desperate to talk, but Jayne gets in first: she's impressed that Danniella managed to do the drama, the comedy and the skating. Angela is still giggling, and loves that Danniella told a story, and was graceful throughout with wonderful transitions. She says that they were all willing her to get up off the ice at the end. Nicky says that a lot of Danniella's skating is good, but she needs to be careful with her crossovers - he docked 0.5 because she couldn't get off the ice at the end, which seems more like something he should be docking Matthew for, but hey. Jason admires her attitude - he loves that she will give anything a go, and it was a committed performance. He says that it could've been a 5.5 if the end had gone a little smoother. Danniella is overawed.

Skate-off survivor Danny is next - his recurring score of 17.0 is brought up again, and he says that while the skate-off knocked his confidence, the tougher the battle, the sweeter the victory. He's skating to 'Sherry' by Frankie Valli, and does at least appear to have heard of it, even though he's not entirely sure it's the best song for him. He looks very ruddy faced in rehearsals, and then he and Frankie go off to see Jersey Boys in the West End to get some inspiration. [At least two of the Jersey Boys are utterly barking mad in real life. It is a shame we did not see more of that. - Carrie] The Four Seasons give him a natty red jacket and teach him how to swing it Sixties-style. Frankie swoons from the sidelines. Naturally, having met some actors in a theatre, he now feels READY FOR ANYTHING, as is always the case in this situation.

They begin back to back with their arms interlinked, and he lifts her up in the air while she kicks her legs, then he puts her down and she slides underneath him. There's a bit of business before they skate off while miming punting a barge, apparently. The dancing is a little bit stuttery, but Danny is at least attacking it with a bit of gusto, while Frankie does her best manic pixie face. They finish with a lift where she rolls around his shoulders and into his arms before he drops her gently to the floor. Now, will he get past 17.0 this week? Time to find out: Emma 4.0, Nicky 2.5, Angela 3.5, Jason 3.5, Jaren 3.5 for a total of...17.0. Doh! [AAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAH! - Carrie] Phil is outraged that Nicky scored him 2.5, but an optimistic Danny points out that at least their overall score hasn't gone down. Chris says that Danny really gets into his performances and puts a lot of time and effort into it, and he's just wishing the scores could go up. Holly is with the judgerinos, and asks Nicky and Emma about the discrepancy in their scores: Emma loves that Danny takes criticism on board and goes away and works on things, and she's pleased that the cheeky chappy in him is back. Nicky hates giving him such a low mark, but felt compelled to do so because the elements are separated, he's slow OVER THE ICE, and he's not skating out. Someone boos, and Nicky says that they can boo all they like, but it's Danny's fault he had to give such a low score. This just causes the boos to grow louder, and Holly says she'll have to cut him off there because he's not popular. Hee! Danny says that if he's here next week, they'll take Nicky's advice on board and try to be more fluid and less contained next week.

After another ad break, Phil's in the audience with Jon Culshaw. Now there's someone deserving of some booing. Hayley and Dan are on next. Everyone cried watching them being all lovey-dovey last week, and gave them uniformly excellent scores This week they have a more jazzy number in the form of 'Get Happy' - a song that Hayley's sung a lot in her career as a STAR OF STAGE AND SCREEN. They're starting on the judges' desk, kicking their feet. Hayley says that they started messing around and ended up making up a little section, which they showed to Chris and Jayne, and they loved it and decided to incorporate it. Hayley thinks the competition is tough, and thinks Gary and Danniella are putting up the biggest fight, but she wants to prove she can be good, goshdarnit.

They begin, as promised, with a bit of leg-scissoring before trotting gleefully onto the ice. It's a really fun programme to watch, with some lovely lifts, and all very smoothly executed, aside from a small stumble during a step sequence. They end impressively, with a swooping lift of the kind that almost brought them down the other week (Gubba calls it a "magic carpet ride", and says it's appropriate because the Whistons sell carpets, apparently), and then she pinches his bum and he lies down on the ice, while she skates over to him and perches delicately on top of him, just resting on one arm and her knees. Very nice indeed. Scores: Emma 5.5, Nicky 5.5, Angela 5.5, Jason 4.5, Karen 5.0 for a total of 26.0 for the second week running. Phil asks if there's extra pressure on her because people think she's the one to beat: she says she's feeling the pressure because everyone else is so good, and she feels that she has to raise the bar every week. Chris says that they're never complacent when they come in on a Monday - they "work their tails off [...] and it shows."

Holly asks Jason why he gave Hayley a lower score than he gave Danniella. Jason points out that Danniella didn't mess up, whereas Hayley did. He says that he loves Hayley's attitude and work ethic, but he scores her hard because he knows what she's capable of. [Jason Gardiner, relative marker. Twat. - Carrie] Hayley says that's entirely fair. Jason adds that it's not a one-horse race at all. Karen says that she docked 0.5 for the stumble, but normally Hayley is foot perfect, which just goes to show how easily something like this can happen to anyone.

Leaderboard: Hayley and Dan in pole position, Danniella and Matthew second, Kieron and Brianne in the middle, Danny and Frankie fourth, and Sharron and Pav at the bottom. Phil reminds us that our votes can make a difference, y'know.

After yet more ads, we're back once more. Phil's in the audience, with Dean Gaffney standing behind him looking a bit bored. Not Famous Emily and Fred are next, and Chris was surprised - but happy for her - that Emily wasn't in the skate-off. She's very excited by this week's music choice: Alexandra BURKE's 'Bad Boys'. However, she's worried about having to bring out the schmexiness required for it, because she doesn't feel sexy or elegant. But wait, who's this? It's Alexandra BURKE herself! Emily is very excited, and hugs her gleefully. Fred is typically stoic about the whole thing. Alexandra offers performance tips, saying that she doesn't have an alter-ego, but she does call herself "The Beast" on stage, a tip she presumably picked up from her pal Beyoncé. Emily thinks this is the best advice ever, possibly because Alexandra gave her complete licence to flirt with Fred as much as possible. Emily is very star-struck, perhaps because Alexandra is Famous, unlike Emily. [I did love this bit. "Fred, I hugged her! Did you hug her?" "Um, yeah." - Carrie]

They begin with Fred lying on his front, with Emily reclined on top of him - he then rolls back and she slides over him. She's having a bit of trouble marrying the required amount of sass with the trademark Dancing on Ice cheesy grin , though. She's still a little bit uneasy out there, with some of the lifts looking a little clunky, and the dancing itself lacking definition. They do pull off a pretty decent tabletop lift at the end, though, and finish back in the position that they began in, so I appreciate the symmetry of it, if nothing else. Have her scores improved this week? Emma 3.5, Nicky 3.5, Angela 4.0, Jason 3.0, Karen 3.5 for a total of 17.5 - so yes, it's her highest score yet! Emily cops to being starstruck by Alexandra, and says that her advice was wonderful. Jayne is really pleased with how Emily developed over the week and got over her embarrassment. Fred thought he saw a little Alex out there tonight. Perhaps Emily should've kept her legs together then. Karen thought Emily gave her best performance yet, and particularly liked the tabletop lift. Angela thought it was an impressive performance, though she would've liked to see more sexiness and raunchiness: "You've got it, girl, go and sell it!" It's very odd to hear Angela Rippon saying that. Jason didn't think there was enough sexiness or raunch in it, and thought her unique move was "the ugliest thing [he's] ever seen", and basically slates the entire thing. Oh well, never mind. If I were Emily, I'd just be thinking, "Suck it, bitches, Angela Rippon likes me, and she is AWESOME."

Gary and Maria are up next, and Chris thinks that if Gary continues to push himself, he could be in the running for the top spot. They're skating to Westlife's wretched cover of the wretched Daughtry original 'What About Now', and they have anasty tumble in rehearsals. Gary says that when he got home, WHERE HE HAS A DAUGHTER, he iced the injury as he was told to, but when he woke up the next day, he was as stiff as a board. [FNAR. - Carrie] Sharon the physio says that he's sprained one of his ligaments, which has put all of his muscles around it into spasm. Gary's upset to have missed valuable training time, but is determined to turn it out on the night.

Oh look, Gary's daughter's in the audience with an "I LOVE YOU DADDY" sign, and the cameraman just happened to get a lovely close-up - what are the odds? Their starting position is Gary doing a side stand with Maria perched beneath his armpit. Lovely! He's doing his best "serious, emotive" face, using all the skills he learned on Hollyoaks and Footballers' Wives. His dancing's still a bit laboured, and it's not the best programme of the night, but there are, again, some nice lifts in there, and it's probably the best job he's done of selling a routine thus far. Marking relatively, I mean. He's still nowhere near the standard of Hayley, Danniella, or even Mikey. Scores: Emma: 4.5, Nicky 5.0, Angela 4.0, Jason 4.5, Karen 4.5 for a total of 22.5 - his highest score yet. Phil thinks he's a completely different bloke (still not an interesting one, sadly), and Gary says that the routine was fun and he really enjoyed it. Maria is very proud of him for everything he's achieved this week. Jayne recalls the slam when he fell, and how scary it all was, but she thinks he's coped admirably with everything, and she loves the emotion he put into it. Gary thanks Sharon the physio for her amazing work. Emma loves the way he throws Maria around with ease, and he managed to tell a story with ease. She even thought he was sexy tonight. Steady on there, Bunto. "Even in the green?" Gary asks. Oh, shut up, you preening ninny. Nicky liked that Gary was attacking his skating and going for his lifts - he isn't consistent yet, but he was SKATING OUT, so he thinks Gary is stepping up week by week. Phil points out that Gary's daughter, WHO IS A DAUGHTER, was enraptured by the whole thing.

After some tedious filler revolving around a competition and some thirty-second slots in which people try to sell us stuff, we're back for our final couple of the night: Mikey and Melanie. Last week, Bunto wanted him to get his confidence back. This week, he's dancing to 'Ring Of Fire' by Johnny Cash, which he's quite excited about, though I am not - not because I don't like Johnny Cash (I do), but just because they're really going to hammer the Western part of this into the ground, aren't they? Sure enough: Mikey and Melanie go linedancing to give themselves something interesting to do in their VT, and are shown how to do "the tush push". Mel thinks they have a bit of yee-haw in their step.

They begin in a rather unfortunate position, with Mikey reclining and Mel between his legs, holding onto his hands and leaning back. It does kind of look like he's going to the toilet. There's a definite air of linedancing ON ICE to their programme, though it's charming enough, and they're both hamming it up for all they're worth. It's a little rough around the edges, I think, but it's still an entertaining routine. Like Not Famous Emily and Fred, they end back in their starting position. Scores: Emma 4.0, Nicky 3.0, Angela 3.5, Jason 4.0, Karen 4.0 for a total of 18.5, the same as last week. Phil asks if the line dancing helped, and Mikey's all "um, not really". Heh. However, he liked having a persona to adopt, which gave him something to focus on. Mel is very proud of his work, as is Jayne, who agrees that being in character helped him, because it stopped him thinking too much about the skating. Angela would've liked to give him a higher mark, but thought it was lacklustre and underperformed, at which point some shitheads in the audience had the audacity to boo Angela Rippon. They will need to see me afterwards for a stern talking-to. Karen thought it was fun and showed Mikey's personality, and they're almost back to where they were a few weeks ago. Unusually, this is a good thing. Jason loves that Mikey doesn't mind looking a bit daft, though it's annoying that he's still letting simple steps trip him up, but he disagrees with Angela - he thought Mikey had a lot of yee-haw out there.

That's everyone, so let's look at the leaderboard: Hayley and Dan at the top, Danniella and Matthew second, Gary and Maria third, Kieron and Brianne fourth, Mikey and Melanie fifth, Emily and Fred sixth, Danny and Frankie seventh, and Sharron and Pav in last place. There's a video recap of everyone's programmes from this evening, and Phil and Holly remind us of the numbers to call should we wish to vote for our favourites. (I'm abstaining from the vote, incidentally, since my experiences on So You Think You Can Dance tended to involve everyone I voted for ending up in the bottom two. We'll be back after Wild At Heart to see who's in the skate-off...

The Skate-Off

Earlier! These eight couples danced ON ICE for our votes. I didn't vote, therefore they completely wasted their time - right? Two of them must face the skate-off, but which two?

Phil and Holly return, and bust out their usual trick of telling us that we have mere nanoseconds to cast a final phone vote, and then not actually leaving enough time for any normal person to actually do so. I still can't make sense of that.

Recap of earlier: Kieron looked like Angela's ex-boyfriend (Angela, darling, I think we need to talk about a few things), and despite his stumble, he thinks he had an amazing experience out there. Sharron committed the cardinal sin of changing her music and incurred the wrath of Bunton, but she's just glad she hasn't knocked herself out through injury. Danniella was dramatic and hilarious, and got reams of praise from Jason for her efforts. Backstage, she said that she didn't mind looking a bit psychotic, which is fortunate. Danny got 2.5 from Nicky, and then Nicky got booed by the audience and got very flustered. Frankie is strangely mute on the subject this week, which is almost scarier than when she gets angry. Hayley had a wee stumble, but was warned by Jason that he judges her harshly because he knows how good she is. Backstage, Hayley says that he was entirely right to do so because she needs to improve. Not Famous Emily danced to Alexandra BURKE's 'Bad Boys' and got her best score yet. Backstage, she felt gently elated but was aware of the need for improvement, and Fred was entirely uninterested as usual. Gary told a story this week and Bunto thought he was sexy, and he was very pleased with his highest score so far. Mikey and Mel went country and western, but Karen wanted him to try harder lifts, and backstage, he expressed awareness of the need to reach the next level - Mel promised a different Mikey if they made it through to next week.

Back in the studio, and Holly's with the judges for some final thoughts. Karen is asked if Robin will be impressed with the improvement on his return: she thinks yes, as a group they're getting tighter, but the gap at the top is getting closer. [He will not, however, be impressed with his fellow judges' behaviour in his absence, I suspect. - Carrie] Angela loved being so close to the action, and thinks it looks much different there than it does at home, and she thinks you have a better view of the glitches and errors from that seat, which is why the public sometimes quibble the scores. Well, that and the fact that the public, in general, are a bunch of grumpy malcontents.

After a teaser for the still-rubbish Dancing On Ice Friday, Phil's ready with the results *touches ear*. The first set of couples guaranteed a place in next week's show are: Kieron and Brianne, Hayley and Daniel, Gary and Maria, Danniella and Matthew and Mikey and Melanie - leaving Sharron and Pavel, Danny and Frankie, and Not Famous Emily and Fred having to wait until after the break to hear their fate. Well, the person who updated Wikipedia during Wild At Heart to say that this week's skate-off would be between Emily and Fred and Mikey and Melanie was wrong - possibly because the lines were still very much open at that point. Wikipedia is a strange and scary place when you think about it too much, or indeed at all.

Adverts. I know that Heart FM want us to think that they play such an exciting variety of music that we'll all be dancing in the workplace, but I'd prefer it if they didn't suggest that the music is in fact so exciting that it stops doctors and nurses from attending to the people around them who are probably in need of medical attention.

Back in the studio, and Phil has the name of the final couple who are guaranteed to survive this week, and that couple is...Danny and Frankie. Which means it's Sharron and Pavel against Not Famous Emily and Fred in the skate-off, which is pretty much what I thought it would be, even before I saw this week's show. Holly asks Jayne and Chris what advice they have for Sharron, and Chris says that she's an Olympic competitor, and will know what to do. Jayne says that Emily needs to dig deep to find her inner bad girl and impress the judges.

Sharron and Pavel return to the ice, and reprise their routine from earlier. Sharron looks a lot happier this time, perhaps because she thinks she might be about to go home and finally rest her aching muscles in a nice warm bath. One of the lifts is a little stumbly, but aside from that, they deliver a slightly better performance than they did earlier, largely because she just seems more relaxed. They skate over to Phil, and he asks if they wish they'd done the original routine now. Sharron says no, because they probably wouldn't even have made it to the live show if they'd continued with it, but she just wants to thank Pavel for basically being wonderful, and if this is it, she's had a great time.

Not Famous Emily and Fred skate back out, and I think Emily's looking a little sassier this time around - perhaps because she's already done this routine for the judges once, so she's less tense about it this time. It's still not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it's definitely an improvement, and I think she's pretty much a dead cert to be saved by the judges. At the end, Kate Robbins can be seen in the audience jumping up and down and clapping, which is sweet. Phil asks if they changed anything about it this time, and Emily doesn't hear him at first, but says that she just gave it as much attitude as she could, and she really enjoyed it this time - and she knew she'd have to face the skate-off eventually.

The couples head back out onto the ice to face the judges, who offer up their verdicts: Emma votes to save Emily for her determination. Nicky saves Emily, because it "would've looked fine on MTV" (?) [at which point I spluttered and shouted, "WHAT?", so I am glad it wasn't just me - Carrie], Angela says that it's not just skating on ice, it's DANCING ON ICE, and saves Emily [well done, Angela, for winning whatever bet it was that got you to mock Nicky on live television - Carrie]. Jason saves Emily too, and Karen makes it a clean sweep. She and Fred skate off, with Emily casting Sharron a forlorn look behind her. Sharron tells Phil that she's had a great time, and again says that Pavel is an amazing partner. She says that the other contestants are great skaters and fantastic people, and she'll continue going down to the Swindon rink to practise her skating even though she's not in the competition any more. So, er, look out for her.

Sharron's best bits: a lot of tumbling over and being tall, and giggling with Pavel, some gradual improvement, presence ON THE ICE, the terrifying uptempo number, and that's it. Back in the studio, Pavel is sad that they have to part, but they have had a tremendous JOURNEY, and seeing Sharron start to enjoy it was the best part. Sharron says that skating is a great sport and a great way of getting fit. Chris says they've been a pleasure to work with, and thanks Sharron for being a part of it.

Next week: no theme is given, but Katherine Jenkins will be here for a performance with Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber. [BUT ROBIN WILL BE BACK. I am clinging to this. - Carrie] I can't exactly say I'm going to be on tenterhooks for the rest of the week waiting for that. Anyway, Carrie will be here next week with all the terrifying details, so make sure you join her!