Second alleged "qualifying" round: 16th January 2011
Last week! The competition began, except for the part where it didn't, because it doesn't begin until Phil and Holly tell us it's begun, and apparently that hasn't happened yet. Always best to start the new series with needless confusion, I feel. Eight couples skated! Three ended up in the skate-off! We said goodbye to Nadia and Angela, except we didn't because they were never even here because the competition hasn't even started yet! Or something.
We're reminded that only 12 couples can make it through to the Official Start Of The Competition, which means that we must jettison another two tonight, and then the six successful couples will join Vanilla, Jeff, Kerry, Steven, Johnson and Whatsername in the official Dancing On Ice line-up for 2011. The eight non-professional contestants taking part in tonight's show (I'm avoiding the word "celebrities" wherever possible for fairly obvious reasons) all plead with us to put them through using their handbook of Competitive Reality Television Clichés. There's something about Sam Attwater that really reminds me of Will Young - it's partly in his face, and partly in the way he talks. Will Young, of course, does not need to do this show, because he is still Actually Famous. (Sorry, Gareth.)
The crowd in the studio cheer loudly for Phillip and Holly. Phil is wearing another very shiny suit, of course, and Holly has her nunga-nungas well covered by a demure black outfit which got a lot of positive reviews on Twitter at the time, but which I find rather unflattering. Phil explains how the show works again, while Holly teases an upcoming performance from Torvill and Dean to the accompaniment of Ellie Goulding. And with that, it's time to meet our stars: Vanilla Ice and Katie Stainsby, Johnson Beharry VC and Jodeyne Higgins (also, his spoken intro is "don't worry, Beharry", like WHAT THE WHAT), Jeff Brazier and Isabelle Gaulthier, Kerry Cat Owner and Daniel Whiston, Steven Arnold and Nina Ulanova, Non-Famous Laura Hamilton and Colin Ratushniak - and then come this week's contenders: Sam Attwater and Brianne Delcourt, Denise Welch and Lovely Matt, both decked out in ice-dancing's version of army uniforms (and well done to regular reader Kat, who pointed out on Twitter that this would be relevant to my interests. I almost wonder at this point if Lovely Matt is just going to be dressed in a selection of fantasy uniforms this year. Would that be so wrong?), Dominic Cork and Alexandra Schaumann, Jennifer Metcalfe and Ridiculously Handsome Frenchman Sylvain Longchambon, Elen Rivas and Lukasz Rozycki (in pink, so even more doomed than previously suspected), Dave Vitty and FRANKIE (I refuse to call him "Comedy Dave" because a) that nickname demeans us all and b) I prefer to only use nicknames that I've developed myself, so for now he will just have to make do with Dave. FRANKIE, of course, can remain FRANKIE without a surname because I'm too scared of her to do anything else), Chloe Madeley and Michael Zenezini, and finally Craig McLachlan and Maria Filippov. Right, that's everyone's full name painstakingly transcribed - you'll understand if I don't do that for every recap, because the spellchecking alone takes about twenty minutes. Then we have Jayne and Chris, and Jayne is looking lovely in a red dress, which does look like it might pose a bit of a trip hazard ON THE ICE.
Phil reminds us that the judges are powerless for a second week and throws to Holly, who is with them. Jason says that this is still a qualifying heat (whatevs) and he'll be looking for potential. Holly asks Robin about Not Famous Laura not being famous enough to get through last week, and Robin says that we must vote for who we think is good. Thanks, Head Judge Robin. Bunto hopes we will vote for the best. Phil reminds us that the newly slimmed-down panel will now score out of 10, giving a total score of 30, and vows to "eat Jason's hat" if anyone gets full marks. I don't care what you have to do, Phil, but please, get rid of that hat at all costs. Oh, and the judges' scores are only for guidance tonight, so make sure you are guided when you're voting. Guided by two people who know shit-all about skating. This fucking show, seriously.
Phil asks Jayne and Chris about what happened to Laura last week, and everyone dodges the elephant in the room which is that LAURA IS NOT FAMOUS and pretends that this is about the public somehow having some vendetta against good skating. [See, this really pisses me off. Whinge about 'not voting for the best' or 'hating attractive young women' but overlook the fact that literally nobody knows WHO SHE IS. - Carrie]
Craig and Maria are up first. Craig reminds us that he was Henry Ramsay in Neighbours opposite Kylie Minogue, but does not mention other such career highlights as this or this. For shame, Craig McLachlan. Craig reminds us that he is FROM AUSTRALIA, where they have no concept of being ON ICE because it is sunny at Christmas, or something. He takes his basic skating test, and does not have the ability to stop. Chris likes his enthusiasm, though, and he is awarded a C+. Maria tells us that she won the show two years ago IN AN EVENT THAT HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM HISTORY and is back to reclaim the title. Yeah, good luck with that. Especially since Craig's work schedule sends him back to Australia before he has time to learn the routine. Chris explains that they had to teach the routine to Maria so that she can in turn teach it to Craig in Australia. She calls it a "super crash-course", which feels like an unfortunate choice of words. Back in the UK, Craig feels the size of the task ahead when he attends the dress rehearsal.
He's skating to 'Sympathy For The Devil', and has the Strictly Come Dancing Memorial Arm Hankies Of Certain Defeat. The routine is rather boring, and feels like a series of vaguely interlinked poses with a lot of slow skating in between. His skating is competent, but his lines lack finesse and the whole thing just looks a touch underrehearsed. Gubba makes an Ashes joke, and a Tasmanian Devil joke, and makes up a lot of nonsense terms for the manoeuvres, as per usual. Scores: threes all round for a total of 9. Craig says he feels he's not ready for Olympic selection just yet, but thinks his costume deserves a gold medal. He pays tribute to Maria, and Phil says that he doesn't know if she's a devil or a postbox, and pokes her in the midriff. Maria says that they were nervous going out first, especially in light of Craig's heavy work schedule, a theme which Chris picks up for his comments, saying that Craig didn't have as much "skate time" as they would've liked. I can't help feeling that trying to juggle this show with prior work commitments HALFWAY AROUND THE WORLD is not really the best idea anyone's ever had. Maybe he should've held out for the 2012 series.
Over to the judges: Robin says that Chris hit it on the head, and Craig's lack of rehearsal showed - it was flat from the ankles down, and slow. Emma says that Craig is "such fun" (is she Patricia Hodge?) but she wants him to be less inhibited and be more of a showman. Jason says that there were moments where he moved gingerly from the waist down, like he was wearing a soiled nappy. [You'd think he'd learnt his lesson about faeces-related similes. - Carrie] Karen gurns. Jason asks for more dynamism. "I knew I should've changed that diaper," notes Craig.
Time for an ad break? Oh, I think so.
After some more bollocks from that "girl with the perfect smile", which makes me want to do the aforementioned smile untold amounts of permanent damage, it's time for Jennifer and Handsome Sylvain. Jennifer tells us that she plays Mercedes McQueen on Hollyoaks, and her VT shows a clip of her as Mercedes removing her top, just in case anyone who's given up watching the show was wondering whether its core proposition had changed at all. So that'd be a no, then. In real life, Jennifer seems much nicer than horrid skanky Mercedes, and gets a bit dizzy in her basic skills test. Chris debates giving Jennifer a B-, but Jayne makes him change it to a C+. Jennifer is happy with that, and requests a strong muscular partner. She gets her wish, and is partnered with Ridiculously Handsome Frenchman Sylvain Longchambon. So, not only will I be performing the blogging equivalent of throwing my underwear at Lovely Matt this year, now they've added a sexy Frenchman just to ensure that they ruin me. Seriously. I have no defence against sexy Frenchmen, they are my Kryptonite, so there is a good chance that I will be embarrassing myself horribly this year. I did think at one point I'd have to think unsexy thoughts just to get to the end of the recap, but that somehow led me here. There's got to be an easier way, surely? Perhaps I'll just ignore the skating altogether, embrace the madness and just recap what Matt and Sylvain are wearing each week. [You're so shallow. Worse than me. And I don't even care about this series because I don't fancy ANY of the skaters. - Carrie] Whatever happens, expect my interest in this series to pretty much disappear entirely once Denise and Jennifer get voted off.
ANYway, Jennifer makes eyes at Sylvain and asks the cameras if he's straight and single, which immediately gets her written off as a HOOR in the eyes of the viewing public, because that's how it works for women on reality shows. Don't ask me why, I just chronicle these things. The show plays up the potential for a showmance as much as possible, with Jayne rhapsodising about the duo's chemistry, and how they've given them a routine to show it off. Jennifer knackers her ribs in rehearsal, so Karen suggests changing the hold on her lift. Jennifer says that the ribs will hurt during her routine, but she'll cry to the end if she needs to. Careful, Jennifer, you've already hurt your cause by playing the "aware of sexuality" card - crying on top of that will almost certainly get you sent home.
They skate out, resplendent in green, and Jennifer appears to have a shaggy cat sitting on her head. They start at opposite ends of the ice, and skate to Madonna's 'Crazy For You', which is one of my favourite songs ever, and thus earns this pair my instant approval. Not that they didn't have it already, because Jennifer is a soap star and Sylvain is smoking hot. Jennifer's a bit stumbly on the ice but skates well and with some confidence. Unfortunately, when they go for the roll-up lift, something goes wrong - I don't know if Jennifer loses her balance or Sylvain loses his grip, but whatever happens, she slides down his back when she should be in the air. On the plus side, she lands on her feet and continues skating, which is quite an achievement. On the other hand, she's just fucked up very obviously at a time when she really can't afford to. She visibly takes a deep breath to steady herself, and continues the routine, which I think is admirable. He dips her at the end, and kisses her on the lips. SWOON. Gubba hopes for a Dancing On Ice engagement. [This is the kind of bullshit that pisses me off and would lose my vote. It would have lost my vote for Kara and Artem on Strictly too except they were up against Matt bloody Baker and his useless choreographer partner. - Carrie] Scores: fours all round for a total of 12. Phil asks Jennifer if she's all right: she's fine, but she doesn't know what happened. She and Phil both turn to Sylvain. Sylvain: "Bof." Ahh, French people. Jennifer admits that she's disappointed, because that lift is the one that she'd perfected in rehearsals. Phil asks how much support Sylvain has given her, and Jennifer says lots, but admits that she did get grumpy with him sometimes. "Only for six weeks," snarks Sylvain. Oh God, he's funny as well - WHY DON'T YOU JUST KILL ME NOW AND HAVE DONE WITH IT. Jayne confirms that Jennifer's roll-up lift was good in rehearsals, but she thinks perhaps Jennifer put too much into it and rolled right down Sylvain's back. Chris thinks Jennifer has excellent quality of skating, and that mustn't be overlooked. Translation: we're really worried no one's going to vote for her because she's a woman and she made a mistake.
Over to the judges: Jason thinks it started well, but Jennifer let her nerves get to her, so she needs to hold back and stay confident, and play up the romance. Robin says that the quality of her skating is naturally there, and tells Sylvain well done for not pushing her too hard. He tells Jennifer not to worry about the lift. Bunto says that she's fallen out of a lift before (back in her Spice Girl days, she was trying to alight at the sixteenth floor but lost balance on those stupid platform trainers again) and it's scary, but she admires Jennifer for carrying on. She too wants to see more chemistry from them. Phil shills the showmance again and encourages us to vote for Jennifer, then we have another ad break.
Up next are Dave and FRANKIE, and the VT editors forget that the purpose of radio is so that none of us have to look at Chris Moyles. Dave hits the ice and flails a lot, and is soundtracked by Olly MURS, just to add insult to injury. We don't see Dave's score, because FRANKIE turns up to be terrifying instead. Dave admits that he is overly concerned with detail, and this makes the routine harder. Then Chris Moyles arrives to watch him rehearse and is smug and unfunny. Still, at least on this occasion he's not being paid for the privilege. The VT then fucks up, for the first of many times tonight, and tries to chew up Dave's tape. Professionalism!
Dave and FRANKIE are skating to 'Safety Dance', which is one of the greatest songs of all time. The routine is mad, but features FRANKIE doing all kinds of insane faces, so I feel obligated to enjoy it on that level, at least. Dave's skating is tentative and his dancing is stilted at best, but to be honest, 'Safety Dance' is so amazing that I'm not really paying that much attention. There do seem to be an alarming number of occasions where Dave does no dancing at all. Gubba jokes about the skating being better on the radio. Scores: Jason 3, Robin 4, Emma 4 for a total of 11. Phil asks Dave how much stick he'll get tomorrow. Dave thinks he looks like an idiot. Isn't "looking like an idiot" the vast majority of his job description? FRANKIE says that Dave did brilliantly, and that she was the nervous one backstage and he was calming her down. Chris says that Dave's costume is "a hit on Tweet" (bless) and he thinks that was the best he's ever seen him perform.
Emma likes that Dave is pushing himself, and likes that he made an asset of his stiffness. Robin agrees, and is impressed that Dave did an unassisted jump in week one, even if it wasn't pretty. Jason makes the "great moves for radio" joke, which falls flat, and says that he thinks Dave has potential. Holly asks Karen for her thoughts, and Karen says through gritted teeth that Dave's produced hard work rather than being naturally gifted, but he has come a long way.
Who's up next? Why, it's Elen Rivas. Elen introduces herself thusly: "You might remember me from my relationship with Frank Lampard." Well, at least she's honest. I must admit that, as my interjections into last week's recap will testify, I always thought they were married, but apparently they weren't. They do seem to have been engaged at one point, though, so I feel slightly less foolish for making that mistake. Anyway, I'm gay - we're not allowed to know things about marriage. Sarah Palin said so. Anyway, Elen jokes that she may not be much of a skater, but she knows how to dance because she's Spanish. I can tell right away that she's going to be one of those contestants - odd sense of humour, slightly mad, female - that I will love and everyone else with absolutely loathe. She laughs a lot in rehearsals, and says that she hopes to bring some fun to the ring. She gets a D+ for her skating skills - "oh, that's rubbish!" she exclaims in horror. In rehearsals, Elen jokes around a lot and says that she loves to improvise. You can see the naked terror in Lukasz's eyes. Karen admits that she's lost control of the lesson. Elen drinks a lot of tea, and says that she's not happy with her choreography. Oh yeah, she's toast. She wants to do the splits, because she is Felicity Kendal. Chris says that they will save the splits for another day, knowing as well as I do that that day will be the fourth of NEVER.
They're skating to 'Your Love Is King' by Sade, and Elen is wearing a tiara. I am loving this already. Except for the actual performance, which is kind of dull, because there are not very many exciting things you can do to such an MOR soundtrack. Elen's a bit wobbly on the ice, but is game and skates reasonably confidently. None of this is going to save her of course, but it bears noting. Scores: Jason 3, Robin 4, Emma 4 for a total of 11. Elen is aghast. She admits to Phil that she was nervous, and that the nerves didn't entirely go away but she's happy with how it turned out. Phil passes the microphone to Lukasz, but all we can hear is Elen gasping for breath. Heh. She says that she remembered everything, which is the important part. Jayne's all "yes you did!"
Robin says he could see the steps being counted in her brain and it didn't have a freedom of flow for him - he wanted to like it, but it was too staccato. Bunto thought Elen looked uncomfortable, which in turn made her feel tense. Jason wants to know where the PASIÓN was, as the whole thing was disassociated for him. Holly argues that it's week one - except by the show's own logic, it can't be week one, because it hasn't started yet. This is like week 0.75 or something.
Midway leaderboard: Jennifer in first place, Dave and Elen tied for second, and Craig in last place. Thrilling, eh?
When we return, there is a brief hiatus to the competition, while Ellie Goulding sits on the stairs and sings her cover of Elton John's 'Your Song', which I like well enough, though I much prefer 'The Writer'. Chris and Jayne hit the ice and perform a routine to the song, and once again I find myself having to comment on this stuff, and...I can't really. It's lovely, but it's quite hard to really say much more than that. [It was fucking awful. She's in tune, but that's about it. No ability to sustain, and dreadful breathing. Hate. - Carrie] For the second verse, Ellie makes her way over to the Diana Vickers Memorial Swing Of Whimsy and continues her performance from there. It's nice for ITV shows to share and recycle props in this age of austerity, isn't it?
Time for more filler, as we see last week's six success stories discussing what they've been up to. Jeff thanks the people who voted for him, and says he wants to get bigger and better. Kerry can't believe she's on the show, and is hoping not to cry in her next routine. Steven says he's been "grafting like you wouldn't believe". Laura says that being in the bottom three is horrible [well, be more famous then - Carrie], but she's glad she made it through. Vanilla is happy to be in the starting line-up, and wants to do more big lifts. Johnson is thrilled to be in the competition, but had a table fall on his finger on the ice (...what?) and split it open. Ouch. [Have we got props week ALREADY? - Carrie] Back in the studio, he models his plaster, which is yellow and spangly to match his shirt. He tells Phil that he wasn't allowed back on the ice until yesterday, but so far they've not had to change anything. It's a bad fracture, but he's trying to ignore the pain, pointing out that this is "just a scratch" in the wider scheme of injuries that he's suffered. Kerry is loving it, and doesn't want to go home, "so if I do get kicked off, I'm going to refuse not to go." Say no more. Steven says that after coming bottom of the leaderboard last week, he realised he needs to raise his game, so he's put more hours in this week - "I've needed to!"
Finally, it's time for another contestant: Dominic Cork. He's some sort of cricketer, apparently. I'll let Carrie fill in the gaps here, she knows about that sort of thing. [Currently Hampshire captain, formerly of England, bowls right-arm seam, once took a hat-trick against the West Indies. - Carrie] Dominic skates over to meet Jayne and Chris for his basic skills test, and skates right into the side of the rink and falls over. He flails a lot on the test because he is TALL and GANGLY. Chris thinks there is a lot of work needed on style. Dominic gets a C overall, but failed in a few areas. Alexandra reminds us that she reached week six last week, but wants to make the final this year. Dominic gets frustrated in rehearsals because he's not good as quickly as he wants to be. He worries about the lifts, particularly: "It's only because you're there that I'm worried," he tells Alexandra, to which she delivers the obvious response: "Well, if I wasn't there, it wouldn't be a lift, would it?" Heh. Chris says that Dominic needs to FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY. (Other self-help titles are available.) Alexandra fears Dominic dropping her and/or falling on top of her. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
They're skating to 'Are You Ready For Love?' by Elton John, with Alexandra apparently modelling a Robyn-themed haircut and trying to give FRANKIE a run for her money in the pantomime faces department. Luckily Dominic does not cripple Alexandra in any of the lifts, but his skating is a bit unsteady, and he is occasionally SLOW OVER THE ICE, as Nicky would almost certainly tell us if he were still here. Gubba misuses a lot of cricket terms in his commentary, but since he's been here for five years and has yet to get the skating terms right, this is perhaps to be expected. [I did laugh at the 'slips' gag, though, even if I was the only viewer to understand it. Credit where it's due. - Carrie] Scores: Jason 3, Robin 5, Emma 3 for a total of 11. Dominic snarks that it's hard to follow Torvill and Dean in the running order, and says that dancing ON ICE is as exciting as cricket. A ringing endorsement if ever I heard one. Phil asks how the lift went - Dominic says that he doesn't want to drop Alexandra ON ICE, but Alexandra says that she felt very safe and comfortable in his arms. Steady on, dear, you're a married lady. Chris says that Dominic's been nervous for days and has been practising in front of the mirror. Bless.
Holly's with the judges, and Jason says that it started off stiff and rigid and gangly, but there were glimpses of a showman in there, which he liked. He thinks that if Dominic gets through and works on his presentation, he could do "okay" in the competition. Wow! Emma thinks Dominic is "adorable", but she wants to see more strength. Robin reminds us that Dominic is TALL, but is impressed with his posture and the quality of his skating, even though the lifts weren't massively difficult. He thinks there's a natural charisma there, and he's sure the audience will vote for him.
After another ad break, it's time for Chloe Madeley, whose VT is soundtracked by the aforeseen Ellie Goulding. Is she sponsoring this competition or something? Chloe tells us that she is a model and TV presenter, but probably best known for being the offspring of Richard and Judy. And this, if Twitter's anything to go by. Chris attacks her from behind on the rink and scares the living shit out of her. She fails on balance in her basic skills test, and gets a C- overall. Chloe vows to hide her report card from her parents, as all children do. Chloe warns her partner Michael that she's not very good, and falls over a lot. It doesn't seem to be going well for her, and she shouts and cries and whines a little bit. Then Richard Madeley comes along to watch rehearsals and tells us that Chloe is her own worst enemy, and should not have confidence issues because she's good. Chloe really wants to make the starting line-up.
They're skating to 'Mama Do' by Pixie bloody Lott. [Oh, the irony! Do you think she noticed? - Carrie] Richard and Judy are in the audience, holding up "Go Chloe" signs, with Judy waving the O with particular fervour. Here's the shock of the night - after an uninspiring VT, Chloe actually turns out to be quite good. And after a couple of dullsville performances, it's nice to see one that's uptempo with some interesting and daring manoeuvres in it. Chloe's not the most elegant skater I've ever seen, and some of the trickier moves have really shaky mounts and dismounts, but this is easily the best performance of the night so far. Her parents applaud in the audience, Judy continues to wave the O. Scores: Jason 4, Robin 6, Emma 6 for a total of 16, and Chloe jumps for joy. Chloe says that she told Michael she wanted to get 12, so she's thrilled. She tells Phil that she's still nervous, and that the footwork takes a lot of concentration, but it was so much fun, and she wants to do it again. Be careful what you wish for, dear. You're already wearing pink, that doesn't bode well. Michael says that he's very proud of Chloe, that she's a lovely girl and he enjoyed every moment. Jayne says that it's hard to believe they gave Chloe a C- a few months ago, because it's like watching a different person.
Bunto says that it was a great performance, and while there's a lot to remember, Chloe's got it now and just needs to relax. She'd like to see more character in future. Robin thinks they have a great relationship ON THE ICE, but he thinks Chloe needs to watch her leglines and get a bit more flexible. Jason tells Chloe she's "not dreadful" (ass), but needs to work on her presentation. He thinks her confidence will worsen as the demands of the competition increase. Holly turns to Karen at this point, and Karen says that confidence is a massive thing in skating, and that they've already begun work on the hopeful subsequent routines, but you can see from her VT how far Chloe's come.
Ad break? Don't mind if I do.
When we return, it's time for the Designated Hunk Contestant - ex-EastEnder Sam Attwater. He reminds us that he was Leon in the show, and we see a shot of him in his underwear, in the interests of equal opportunities ogling after Jennifer's VT earlier. Sam says that he used to go ice-skating a lot, but mainly to pick up girls rather than to actually skate. He does well in his basic skills test, and scores an A-, but he's disappointed because he wanted an A*. He gets partnered with Brianne, who appears to have been his pre-show choice of partner. Chris says that he's one of their strongest skaters, so they've given him a tough routine to start with. Sam starts to get a bit scared, but he picks it up quite quickly. Karen thinks he's a good skater, but that he can't rely on that, because of what happened to Laura. Except Laura was a girl [still is, I think - Carrie], and Sam is a STUDLY MAN. He'll be absolutely fine, Karen. Trust me.
They're skating to 'Club Can't Handle Me' by Flo Rida, and Sam's clearly our obligatory ringer for this year, because his abilities are far ahead of everyone else's - although even he's kind of sloppy in his execution, so he's not quite the finished package that people like Hayley or Chris Fountain or *spit spit* Ray were from the outset. That aside, however, it's still an impressive routine, even if he ends it facing the wrong way, leading to a spot of improvisation from him and Brianne. [With his face in Brianne's bosom. Nice. - Carrie] Scores: Jason 6, Robin 7, Emma 8 for a total of 21. Yowza. Phil asks Sam if he was happy to be pushed, and Sam says he's happy to go further, but he was a bit worried when he first saw the routine. Brianne says she's very proud of him, and it's been a pleasure to skate with him. Chris thinks they make a great pair, and says that Sam reminds him "of a young Ray Quinn". Isn't Sam older than Ray Quinn though? [Ray just ACTS like he's 50 with his bloody swing singing and his stupid teddy-boy haircut and smug face and shit versions of musical theatre classics in a desperate attempts to garner sympathy votes from his hometown which is LIVERPOOL...wait. Sorry. Lost the run of myself there. Carry on. - Carrie]
Over to the judges: Bunto loves Sam's rhythm and connection with his partner and the audience. Jason likes the sound of "Sam and Brianne" and thinks they'll be around for a long time yet, but wants Sam not to get too overexcited and rush his music. Robin agrees, and loves the instant chemistry, but warns Sam to remember his precision in his skating. Jason tells Sam to get his ending right, because that one was a disaster.
Final ad break. We're nearly there, folks.
When we return, it's time for Denise and Lovely Matt to hit the ice. Denise says that she is not a natural sportswoman, and would much rather be watching Dancing On Ice than appearing on it. Jayne is impressed by Denise's gutsiness, and she passes every element of the test, although she got marked down for feeling queasy on the spin, and Denise is thrilled with her B+. Denise asks for a fit partner, and gets Lovely Matt. "I'm so glad it's you!" she trills. "The fittest one!" Heh. Matt rehearses in a sleeveless top (hey, just reporting the facts here), and Denise struggles with a part of the routine where Matt pulls her through his legs, because she comes very close to the ice and has to use her own strength to get herself back up. Denise says that if she falls, she'll just pretend it was deliberate. Because we'll believe that, of course.
They're skating to 'Pack Up' by Eliza Doolittle, hence the outfits, and Matt's trousers leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. Again, just reporting the facts. Denise's performance style is a little bit Play School, all giant ham faces and stretchy arm gestures, but she manages the slide through Matt's legs and has some nice smooth transitions. However, I think she's largely reliant on him for her stability at this point, so that's something she'll need to work on, and there are some moments that are rather ungainly. Still, not a bad debut, say I. Scores: Jason 3, Robin 4, Emma 3 for a total of 10. [Ian Healy looks so bored in the audience. Love him. - Carrie] Denise says that she's been having dreams for weeks where her teeth fall out and she gets no points, so she's thrilled to get anything at all. Lovely Matt says that Denise nailed it tonight and he's very proud of her. Jayne tells Denise she should be proud of that performance, and she loves that her acting skills came out there too.
Jason gets booed before he even starts talking, but says there were real moments of promise in the routine - combined with Matt skating with his Lovely Mum. He likes Denise's lack of fear, though, and thinks she might end up progressing. Karen interjects at this point, and thinks Jason is being harsh, because Denise is doing it "for the older lady, like myself." Oh Karen. Jason retorts that it's not disrespectful to say that it looked like Matt skating with his mum because that's what it looked like. There's no logic to that statement at all - it's not as if the latter cancels out the former, is it? Phil tells them to cram it because Wild At Heart needs to start in a minute. So we only get the feedback from one judge? And it's Jason? Jesus wept.
Final leaderboard: Sam and Brianne top, Chloe and Michael second, Jennifer and Lovely Sylvain third, a three way tie for fourth place between Dave, Elen and Dominic, with Denise and Lovely Matt fifth and Craig and Maria in last place. Phil declares the lines open, and then there's the obligatory recap: Craig and the Arm Hankies Of Doom, A Handsome Frenchman and some girl off Hollyoaks, SAFETY DANCE, the entirely doomed Elen Rivas, Dominic being TALL, Chloe being the real surprise of the night, Sam being the most obvious ringer since the telephone on Deal Or No Deal, and Army-style Denise with Lovely Matt featuring Lovely Matt's Bottom. And there we have it.
Eight couples earlier skated for our votes, but only six of them will make it through. The lines have closed - who will survive? And given how tonight's show almost sent me to sleep on several occasions, I include my own survival amongst those under question.
Phil and Holly return to the Ice Balcony (now with 100% less ice) and Holly reminds us that the five celebrities with the most votes will qualify automatically, while Phil adds that the other three will face the skate-off, as the voting lines reopen.
Recap, now with additional commentary! Craig says that he and Maria would love to make the starting line-up, and will investigate a different type of underwear next week to avoid any more nappy-related comments from Jason, if they make it that far. Jennifer says that she was overexcited earlier, and perhaps that's why she went flying over Sylvain - she thinks she's lucky she didn't end up on the roof. Dave is relieved that it's over - he thinks he's done the routine better than that, but he's also done it a lot worse. Elen hugs Lukasz terrifyingly close and basically tells the judges to go and fuck themselves in a variety of silly voices. I love her. [Poor Lukasz. He fears her. - Carrie] Dominic vows to listen to Bunto's criticism, which sounds like his first big mistake. Chloe hopes to avoid the skate-off, and feels like they've got the potential to really wow people. Sam says that he lost it a bit when the scores came in, and he hopes that Bunto was right, that this was what the audience wanted to see. Denise says she's enjoyed every minute, and that she thinks skating is in her blood, so she'd be gutted to go home.
Back in the studio, Holly's with the judges, and invokes What Happened To Laura yet again. Robin thinks Sam is safe, but he's worried for Chloe and Dominic, and hopes they'll be saved by the public. Jason thinks there's an even playing field going into the competition, and some very exciting standout performances, so he's looking forward to seeing how they develop.
It's time to discover who's going through - but not before an ad break, naturally.
When we return, it's straight down to business. Phil has the results, and touches his ear to prove it. The seventh couple with a place in the competition is Dave and FRANKIE. "WOWWWW!" screams FRANKIE. I'm glad she's still kind of crazy. Joining them are Sam and Brianne, Dominic and Alexandra, Chloe and Michael (that one really took me by surprise, I must admit) and finally Denise and Lovely Matt. I must say, the presence of both Lovely Matt and Lovely Sylvain in such close proximity to the skate-off was most unsatisfactory to me. Never do that to me again, show.
So we have Elen, Craig and Jennifer in the skate-off. Elen's clearly toast, so it's between Craig and Jennifer for the final place in this year's competition. Holly informs us that the lines have now re-opened, and none of the votes cast previously will stand (interestingly). I rush to the phone to vote for Jennifer - partly because I think she's the best skater of this trio, and partly because I am incredibly shallow and want Lovely Sylvain to stick around. [I wanted Craig to stay, because he's the only one I have heard of, but didn't care enough to vote because this series is DULL. - Carrie] Holly asks Jayne and Chris what gives, and they're both shocked to see Jennifer in the skate-off. Chris thinks Craig is a big character, and he's sure Elen can remember her routine all over again.
Craig's VT tells us that he is loving this experience and the sense of family on the show. He found it hard to see Nadia and Angela go home last week. He doesn't think he's a sublime skater, but would love the opportunity to continue having come this far. They reprise their routine to 'Sympathy For The Devil', and it's much the same as it was the first time around - it's a bit too studied and tentative, and there's no intensity to the performance - even the "acting" parts of it feel rather consumed by Craig's need not to fall over on his skates. Craig whimpers to Phil that getting the first one out of the way, once you change your nappy (ho ho ho), it's amazing how much more relaxed you are second time around. He says it's a really good exercise to tackle the routine again. Jayne thinks he gave a more settled performance.
Jennifer's VT shows her thinking that "voilà" means push, and singing the praises of Lovely Sylvain, and wanting to say in the competition. She vows to do whatever it takes to stay in the competition, because she feels like she belongs on the ice. They reprise their routine to 'Crazy For You' and this time the roll-up lift works - hooray! You can see the look of relief on her face when it comes off. Jennifer tells Phil that she loved every minute of that, and she agrees that Craig was right - she felt like she had nothing to lose, so she just went for it. Chris thinks her skating quality is great, and he really wants to see more of them.
Elen's VT gets eaten by the machine again. Poor Elen. I know her elimination is a foregone conclusion, but they could at least do her the decency of letting her play out her final scenes. She says she doesn't want to be the first out - she wants to stay in and inspire her children (drink!), and says that she'd be devastated and cry if she went out now. Well, let's hope there's some Kleenex in her dressing room. They reprise their routine to 'Your Love Is King', and again, there's not a lot to differentiate this from the first performance - it's still a bit too cautious and lacking in fire, but not without its charms. Elen's out of breath again afterwards, which makes me suspect she's not really up to the rigours of the competition. She tells Phil that she's "gutted" to be in the skate-off, but Lukasz says he's very proud of her for improving so much. Jayne congratulates her on another good performance.
Holly's with Karen, who says that the whole elimination process is tough on everyone - she can't call it, but she thinks everyone upped their game second time around. Holly reminds us that the lines are about to close, while Phil's talking to the six who survived last week. Laura speaks from experience and says that the skate-off is a rollercoaster of emotions, but says that having the chance to do it again is another chance to prove yourself to the public. Vanilla Ice, who is now going by Rob, apparently [not on MY watch, show. Vanilla Ice is Vanilla Ice - Carrie], talks about the adrenaline being up, but taking it day by day. He says that he's feeling all the emotions, and it's an awesome experience. Jeff says he's really enjoyed watching everyone, but he prefers being out there skating so he doesn't feel like he's "getting away with something". He says that all six of them are ready to put on a good show next week, at which Laura laughs heartily and no one joins in. Jeff concludes by saying that there are more stars in the competition than there were in Bethlehem, apparently having missed that there was one star in Bethlehem, and that was kind of the point.
The lines close, and we have our final ad break of the evening.
Finally, we return to the competition. The three remaining couples are lined up, waiting to learn their fate. The couple gaining the 12th and final place in the Official Competition is...Jennifer and Lovely Sylvain! Hooray! At least one more week of handsome Frenchness! Phil tells Jennifer and Sylvain to join their fellow skaters, and they pay no attention because they're too busy saying goodbye to Craig, Maria, Elen and Lukasz. Eventually they tear themselves away, and Phil turns to Craig and Elen. Craig says that the good news is that he can go surfing at Bondi now. He adds that he's had a great time, and Maria is a treasure. Elen has also had a great time, and hugs Lukasz.
Next week: finally, the Actual Competition is upon us. Finally, it has been decreed! The judges' scores will finally count for something! (Um, yay!) So that's it. We'll be back next week, for the Real Competition [and please to all the gods and saints, a Shock! Twist! whereby some new people who aren't morons join Sir Robin on the judging panel - Carrie]. Join us, won't you?