Sunday, 30 January 2011

A bit of a Cork up

Week 2 of the "official" competition: 30th January 2011

Last week! The competition officially started, even though this "official" business means bollock-all to anybody not actually involved in the making of this show because we all decided it started back in the first episode, like all normal things do. Last week, 12 notable people skated with their professional partners, and two of them ended up in the skate-off, those people being Coronation Street star Steven Arnold and cricketer Dominic Cork. The ultimate result being that Steven was punished for the cardinal sin of standing up Torvill and Dean, and sent packing. This week! There's a SHOCK! TWIST! Except it's not so much of a shock any more because the embargo was lifted at midnight on Monday and everyone's been tweeting about it, so we all know that the contestants will be deciding who's booted from the skate-off this week. SHOCKING! And quite possibly POINTLESS! Still, at least we have INJURY PR0N to look forward to later. Hooray! [Confession: I fell asleep just as this show started, woke up, and then having watched three minutes of it, went back to sleep again. I re-watched it on Sky+ but am fairly sure I wasn't really paying attention. - Carrie]

Titles! After which, we have Phil and Holly. Phil is pretty much beside himself with glee over the SHOCK! TWIST!, which has been termed "the ice pick". Oh dear. Holly, to her credit, greets both this innovation and Phil's subsequent excitement with the indifference they deserve. I mean, I know that's her standard mode anyway, but I feel like she's my on-show avatar at this point (only with better boobs, obviously), basically giving the eye-roll that I'm not there to give. Phil practically spits "THE ICE PICK!" in her face just to ram home how very excited he is about it, and Holly's all "I believe I said WHATEVER." Then fortunately they both calm down a bit in time to introduce the VT in which the Skating Stars learned of their fate.

Head Judge Robin strides out to greet them, and breaks the news that they will be deciding who goes home. As my boyfriend pointed out, the irony is that the outcome of this week's skate-off is being determined by people who are more qualified to do it than the usual bunch. Anyway, everyone reacts in "horror" and there are several cries of "I'm not doing it", chiefly from Kerry. Robin buggers off and leaves them to it. Kerry (looking a bit weather-worn without her make-up on, it has to be said) says that she will refuse to do it. Vanilla ICE shrugs and says there's nothing he can do about it. Denise says that it's a competition, so you've got to suck it up. Jennifer gets excited at the thought of getting rid of someone who's stiff competition. Laura (looking a bit like one of the Stalchildren from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in this harsh lighting) is fearful for the same reason, because she might well be a target, though she has the good sense not to say this in as many words. Cork thinks there will be tears.

Back in the studio, it's time to meet the skaters. Denise and Lovely Matt are first, followed by Sam and Brianne, then Kerry and Daniel, then Dave and FRANKIE, then Laura and Colin (Laura's intro is "millions of children are proud of her" - millions? Really? She's on Nickleodeon, not Glee), then Vanilla ON ICE and Katie, then Chloe and Michael (who've come as Bondage Funtime Barbie and Ken, for some reason), then Jeff Brazier (whose intro begins "still here", like even the announcer can't quite believe it), Dominic and Alexandra, Jennifer and Handsome Sylvain, and finally Johnson and Jodeyne. I've heard a lot of people complaining about how this show is kind of amateurish and "will this do?" compared to the comparitive slickness of Strictly and X Factor and such, and I think this method of introducing the contestants is a good case in point: it takes for-flipping-ever to get them all out, especially at this stage in the competition, and when they are all out, they have to just stand there for about another 16 bars of the theme music - no one's waving or clapping or doing anything interesting, they're all just...standing there. Standing ON ICE. That's not interesting. [To be fair, the Dancing hasn't been that interesting either. - Carrie] They just all look a bit uncomfortable. Fortunately, Jayne and Chris arrive eventually to break the tension and then everyone recovers the use of their legs and arms. Phew!

Phil and Holly remind us how the scoring works, even though it still doesn't make an awful lot of sense. First up tonight are Chloe and Michael, whose frog lift went well last week and left them very happy. This week, Chris tells us, it's "rock chick" and Chloe is very excited to "tear it up". She's just less convinced about the skating side of things, and asks the very reasonable question, "why do we keep doing lifts where I could potentially kill Michael?" This week she's doing the neck spin, where she has to lock her feet together around his neck and then he spins her around and eventually lets go of her arms. So not only could it kill Michael, it's entirely possible it could kill Chloe as well. Yikes. "Watch your foot," Michael scolds in rehearsals, as well he might. Michael models a cut at the base of his neck and tells us "that's another souvenir from Chloe Madeley". Heh. Chloe screams as they practise, although for some reason she's more worried about getting into the bottom two than she is about maiming herself or her partner. She says it's a bottom two that no one wants to be in, although I can't imagine they're terribly up for being in the skate-off any other week either.

Kinky Ken and Bondage Barbie (TM Shampoo) take to the ice, where they have a prop jukebox. Richard and Judy wave a banner that obstructs the view of about twenty people sitting behind them. Michael puts a coin in it and it starts to play 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing'. LOLLERSKATES. Chloe kicks it and it switches to an offensively anaemic cover of 'I Love Rock 'N' Roll' (seriously, it makes Britney Spears sound like L7). The routine is quite a lot of rock posturing, and Chloe seems to have her tongue out most of the time, like she's Pink or something. She skates quite well on her own though, which I'm quite impressed by. The neck spin goes without a hitch, although from certain angles it does look a bit like she takes his ear off on the dismount. (She doesn't, don't worry.) Scores: 6.5 all round for a score of 19.5, "again" according to Gubba, even though she's never scored 19.5 before. Chloe says that the adrenaline kicked in and stopped it from being scary. Phil asks her about the SHOCK! TWIST! and Chloe says that it's worrying everyone - no one wants to turf out "one of the family". Jayne says it's put the cat amongst the pigeons, and Chris thinks everyone's really aware of what they've got to do tonight.

Holly's with the judges, and Robin says that it'll give them a chance to find out what it's like to be a judge. He tells Chloe that she looks great ("you little minx") and gave a great performance. He uses the "was it clean and technically correct? No" construction that's already been done to death this series and we're only four (/two) weeks in. Bunto tells Chloe that she's done three different genres - pop, ballad and rock - and she thinks that Chloe's very brave and should be around for a long time. Jason loves her versatility and her consistency. He would've liked a bit more reckless abandonment and maybe some hairography, though. Everyone in the studio is all "hairography? What?" because they don't watch Glee [I don't watch Glee and I'd say the term "hairography" is fairly self-explanatory - Carrie], and Chloe explains that she was doing it in the canteen earlier. Jason cajoles her into repeating it, which she does, except the camera's on Jason when she does it and cuts back just as she's finishing. LIVE BROADCAST FAIL.

After further adventures of The Girl With The Perfect Smile (otherwise known as Macleans Officially Sponsors Heterosexuality), Phil hams it up a bit more regarding his enjoyment of The Ice Pick, and then it's time for Johnson. Who is a Hero, lest we forget. Last week, Jason urged him to take dance classes, and this week he has 'One Love' by Bob Marley for his music. Johnson is surprised to be performing Bob Marley ON ICE. Chris reiterates Johnson's issues with choreography, so Johnson heads off to Finsbury Town Hall to learn from the Ballet Boyz. He seems to be quite enjoying it, and is very keen to show Jason how much he's improved.

On commencement of his routine, it's not especially clear if he's improved or not, as his dancing-on-the-spot at the beginning is a bit out of sync with Jodeyne, and on several occasions they seem to be doing entirely different steps. However, once he gets moving he does seem to be noticeably smoother, if still a little inhibited in his movements. Progress is being made, but using baby steps. Gubba blathers on about Jodeyne's outfit being "almost" the colours of Grenada's flag, and claims that one move is the "Jerk Chicken Plank", like I AM SO SURE THAT IS WHAT IT'S CALLED. Maybe I should go back to ignoring him. Scores: Jason 4.0, Robin 4.5, Emma 4.5 for a total of 13.0, same as last week. Guess that choreography class wasn't all that helpful, then.

Johnson tells Phil he never imagined he'd go to a ballet class, but he definitely enjoyed it and thinks his musicality is coming slowly. Jodeyne thinks he's embracing the "whole of what skating is", and that he's an inspiration to her. Because he's a Hero. Phil reminds us that Johnson is still skating with a broken finger, lest we forget that the broken finger is truly the toughest obstacle he's ever had to overcome, and Jayne says he's proven that he can dance ON ICE as well as on the beach. Jason applauds Johnson for going to the dance classes and says he can see Johnson starting to apply what he's learnt - it's just a shame that it's not applicable for this style of routine. And this is Johnson's fault...how, exactly? He adds that he lost interest because Johnson was disconnected. Bunto agrees, but likes Johnson's rhythm (naturally) and thinks it's becoming a performance that the audience can enjoy. Robin is also in line with the others, and says that Johnson needs to connect all the way through and not to be "flat" and "samey". Even Karen's in agreement, saying that Johnson sometimes concentrates too much, but she's happy with his progress since he is now wearing sequins.

More adverts. (I recap using the STV Player, so I get a lot of Scottish ads for products that I cannot purchase in London. This is simultaneously quite exciting and a bit disappointing.)

When we return, Holly calls the judges "sensible" and "unbiased". I know, right? Jeff is next. We get trauma flashbacks to last week where he got mediocre feedback. Jeff thinks a skate-off may be looming in the near future, and feels that he's falling short of what's expected of him. His latest routine involves an arabesque, which is causing some difficulty in rehearsals. Jeff asks Chris and Jayne for a big lift so he can raise his game. He says that he owes everyone who's voting for him a good, solid performance where he gets everything right. Ah, foreshadowing. It's such fun.

He's skating to 'Better Together' by Jack Johnson, and the routine starts out well enough, but then the arabesque comes. Jeff clearly doesn't have his leg up high enough, and basically clonks Isabelle on the head as she tries to go underneath. She grabs him for support, and he falls, and then she falls, and there's an audible gasp from the audience, though to his credit, Jeff gets straight back up again and carries on. The lift goes fine, but they end slightly behind the music because of the fall. Gubba predicts a skate-off for Jeff tonight. Scores: Jason 4.0, Robin 4.0, Emma 4.5 for a total of 12.5. Phil cries "what a shame!" regarding the fall, although frankly I'd call falling over and still getting a higher score than last week a bit of a bonus. Jeff blames it on "Tottenham getting smashed 4-0". I'd be very careful about using the word "smash" in a football context right now, Jeff. He thanks the crowd for their support, and assures us that his knee is fine. Chris says that Jeff put too much speed into his spiral and got too close to the edge, but he likes that he was working so hard this week.

Bunto says she felt "a bit emotional" watching him, and feels his skating is smooth, and wonders if he's just nervous each week. She likes his lifts, and hopes he'll be around next week. Jason says it was better than he's ever done until the fall, but he recovered very well, and then sneers that a roll-up is "not a difficult lift" but tells him well done anyway. Robin thinks Jeff's basic skating has improved, and thinks his improvement will be noted by the audience at home. Don't count on it, Cousins.

Kerry and Daniel are next, with Kerry sporting a kind of blonde fauxhawk. I think they were probably going for a sort of Robyn look, but the effect is a bit more "fifth member of Danish girlband who doesn't really do anything". Jason criticised her last week for being dependent on Daniel, which Kerry agrees to, and I'll skip over all the Katona/dependency jokes because we're all above that, right? Kerry feels she's not ready to skate solo. Well, you should be, petal. Chris has given her some bodypopping for this week's choreography, and they've given her some moments to skate by herself. Daniel says that while Kerry's solo moments are only a little part of the programme, they're very important to her. Kerry thinks her confidence is improving, but the little voice in her head is still telling her that she's not as good as everybody else. I would just like to clarify that that little voice is not me, despite what you might think.

She's skating to 'Disturbia' (again, no jokes) and dangles off Dan for the first 20 seconds of the song, until she does some body popping by herself and a very tiny bit of skating. Like, miniscule. And that's all we're getting of solo Kerry, folks. It's a bit of a dull routine to be honest, with a bunch of ho-hum lifts and Daniel doing all the work as usual. It's interesting that the show is harping on that so soon - I would've thought they'd hope we didn't notice for a few more weeks. Scores: Jason 3.0, Robin 3.5, Emma 3.5 for a total of 10.0. The audience boo. Kerry says that she really enjoyed the routine, "but fair dos". She's disappointed with the scores, but on the other hand, feels a bit more relaxed now she's had a lower score, because it was bound to happen eventually. Jayne says that they're always trying to boost Kerry's confidence, because that's the only way for her skating to get better.

Jason says that she's doing lots of lifts, and it's not a partnership right now, it's a dependency. (I'm not going to crack, I swear it. Oh, bugger, I said "crack".) He doesn't see any improvement from Kerry, and doesn't believe that she's having a good time out there. He calls the choreography a mess and says that the "double-rotation back stag" made it look like she was preparing for an internal exam. The camera's right in Karen's face ready to capture her reaction to this, and of course Holly turns to Karen next. Karen points out that Kerry didn't choreograph the routine, and while she understands the marks, she can only do what she's given. Jason complains that Daniel is basically manipulating Kerry into position throughout the routine (here Robin can be heard chipping in "absolutely" even though his mic is off, not that the show was purposely setting up another Karen/Jason clawfight again or anything). Kerry cheers Karen on. Karen tells Jason that he's here just to offend people. Jason claims he's here to give people "the truth". Either that's part of his schtick, which is quite sad, or he genuinely believes that he's "the honest judge", which is even sadder. Holly asks Robin if Kerry can skate by herself, and Robin's all "ask me that question when she's actually attempted it and I might be able to tell you." He points out to Karen and the room in general that the others are given more to do because they can do it. Kerry mugs for the cameras.

After more ads from north of the border, it's time for Vanilla Ice and today's obligatory injury pr0n. Last week Bunto criticised him for slouching, and this week he has a slow song, which he is not impressed by. It's 'Always' by Bon Jovi (sadly not the Ruth Lorenzo version) and Chris says that the music choice took him out of his comfort zone. We get a Trauma Flashback to Jason in the qualifying rounds, marking relatively because he didn't think Vanilla would be able to do the more lyrical routines, of which this is one. Vanilla says he does not do slow songs, but he knows if he pulls it off on the night, people will feel the passion of the routine. In the moment we've all been waiting for, Vanilla takes a tumble on the ice and lands pretty much on his head. Ouch. Katie inspects him quickly and then skates off, calling for a medic. Vanilla tells the team that they need to call an ambulance in case his brain swells. I get that it's a nasty-looking injury and everything, but at the same time, I'm kind of amused by how needy and panicked he is when he hurts himself. And yes, I'm well aware of how easy it is for me to say that from the comfort of my sofa, which is not and will never be ON ICE. Vanilla goes to hospital, and gets some stitches for the cut on his eye, but there appears to be no serious damage. He returns to training on "the ice that broke The Ice" (oh dear) and Katie tells us that his confidence levels have crashed, if you'll pardon the turn of phrase. Vanilla says "the concussion" has set him back, but he's going to give it all he can.

Surprisingly, the routine is quite good - even stripped of the "showman" props, he's quite a good skater and while his lines leave a lot to be desired, he's doing a good job of selling this routine. There are a few stumbles, but nothing too serious, and the bit where he and Katie lunge across the ice in perfect synchronisation is really quite good. Scores: Jason 5.5, Robin 5.0, Emma 5.5 for a total of 16.0. Vanilla tells Phil that the great thing about the show is overcoming obstacles, and he credits Sharon the physio and the make-up people for helping him out and covering his injury. Chris says that Vanilla has shown great courage, because they didn't know if he would skate tonight, but he's shown a lot of fight and passion tonight.

Robin calls it "a terrific job" and says that the fall internalised everything and made him very focused, which handily worked in his favour. Bunto says "you was looking down" (CALL OFCOM!) but thinks this is to be expected. She thinks he may be a bit of a romantic on the quiet. Holly calls Jason "Robin", and he agrees that being so inhibited worked well for Vanilla. Jason calls him a terrific partner for the way he looks after Katie during the lifts, and advises him to watch his arms ("you still look like you're searching for something in the dark").

When we return from the ads, it's time for Dominic and Alexandra. Dominic was "adequate" and "tentative" last week according to Robin, criticism that he agreed with. Dominic does not want to be in the bottom two again this week, because he wants to be the one making the decision of who goes home. Freddie Flintoff comes in to watch him rehearsing, and is impressed with Dominic's performance. Dominic calls Freddie "a showman" and Alexandra points out that he, Dominic, is one as well.

They're skating to 'I Can See For Miles' by The Who and wearing matching Union Jack-themed outfits [Union FLAG - tetchy sub-editor]. Has it really come to the point of playing the shameless patriotism card already? His skating is less tentative this week, but a little bit less stable for it. Alexandra, bless her, is selling this routine for all she's worth. Dominic? Not so much. Scores: Jason 3.0, Robin 4.5, Emma 3.5 for a total of 11.0. Phil asks how much it affected him being in the skate-off, and Dominic says that it made him question himself as a person. Really? Jeez, get out more. But then Andrew Flintoff came to see him and was a hero (but not A Hero) and that made him feel better. Jayne thinks that Dominic really enjoyed that routine, and improved this week. Chris urges us to check his nails, and we see Dom has Union Jack nail art on top of everything else.

Jason likes it when Dominic's performance is over. He feels that if anything he's deteriorating. Robin: "I'm going to disagree. If I was purely judging the performance and I didn't know anything about skating, I would be slightly in agreement with Jason." HA! Even better, Jason thanks him for saying this, having completely missed the stealth insult. Robin thinks the skating is strong, but needs to be faster. He thinks Dominic needs to deliver from the neck up like he delivers from the ankles down. What about the rest of him?

From there we move on to Laura and Colin. Laura says that she thoroughly enjoyed her performance last week, and Jayne tells us that they wanted to bring out the "Latin-y feeling" of Laura's music out in her choreography. Chris says that they're going to make her less smiley and, well, children's TV presenter-like. Her routine this week involves a move called the wrist ripper, which basically involves Colin hurling her about by the arm. Her arms are hurting like hell, and she's having trouble landing the move to boot. It doesn't work in dress rehearsal, and Laura says that her arm is pretty sore. She doesn't know if her routine will work, but she's going to try her best.

The music for Laura's Flamenco-inspired routine? 'Whenever, Wherever' by Shakira. Dear Dancing On Ice: Shakira is Colombian. Please at least attempt a small degree of cultural awareness. Cordially yours, Steven. Those issues aside, it's a good routine, and Laura makes a decent attempt at being more sultry than usual, though I'm pleased she's still crazy-intense as always. There's an impressive bit that involves her balancing on tiptoes, and the music omits the second verse, which is good because Laura's breasts are neither small nor humble. Whether they've been confused with mountains in the past, I don't know. The wrist ripper doesn't entirely come off - Laura lands facing the wrong way, I think, and overbalances backwards, but manages to right herself and finish on the final beat of the song. Points for effort, if not for execution. Gubba calls her a "Latino seductress." Latina seductress, you utter goon. Scores: Jason 7.5, Robin 6.0, Emma 6.5 for a total of 20.0. Laura is lost for words. She's also clutching her wrist like she's Kara Tointon. Phil asks if the big scores will make her more vulnerable in the Ice Pick. Probably not, Phil, because they make her less likely to be there in the first place. Chris loves that Laura doesn't hold back, and says that the routine has come together so well since the beginning of the week.

Jason loves the dynamics of Laura's performance, and thinks she had the flamenco nuances perfectly. He doesn't care that she didn't land the wrist ripper because she didn't fall either. Bunto thinks Laura has something very special. Robin loves the gusto with which she attacks everything, but wants her to make sure she crosses her feet over if she's going to do a barrel roll, but thinks it's great she's at this standard so soon in the competition.

When we return from the break, it's time for Jennifer and Handsome Sylvain. Things went well for them last week, but Jennifer thinks there's still room for improvement. She says that she didn't know the music at first - I like to assume that this is because it is Cilla Black's version of 'Anyone Who Had A Heart' and she rejects any version of this song not performed by Dionne Warwick. That's my canon and I'm sticking to it. Jayne thinks this routine will showcase their relationship. Jennifer says that Sylvain's getting a bit more serious with her, and they're both quite stubborn. They bicker a bit about who's right, just like a real couple, and Jennifer says she'll let him off because he's cute. Amen to that, quite frankly. Jennifer adds that no one wants to be in the bottom two, and no one wants to vote off a friend either, so she's just focusing on giving her best performance on the night.

So they're skating to some BASTARDISATION OF ONE OF THE GREATEST SONGS OF ALL TIME -- hang on, has Sylvain got his chest hair out? Never mind, carry on. There are elements of Danniella's 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me' routine from last year in this, though not quite so played-to-the-back-of-the-room. The teapot drop looks a little bit wobbly to my eyes, but the skating and dancing elsewhere seems pretty good, if a little rough around the edges. Jennifer needs to work on the elegance of her dismounts too. Minor things, but if she can nail them, they'll really improve her performances. I should totally be a judge. I'm way more qualified than Bunto. Scores: Jason 5.5, Robin 7.0, Emma 6.5 for a total of 18.5. Phil asks who's right when they have a tiff, and they both reply individually that they are. SUCH SEXUAL TENSION! Jayne says that this was another great performance, and is impressed at the speed that Sylvain makes Jennifer skate.

Bunto loves the connection between the two, but she feels something is lacking, and would like to see Jennifer performing a bit more independently. Jason: "You're an actress, yes?" And he actually WAITS FOR JENNIFER TO CONFIRM THIS, JESUS CHRIST. I know this is not a massively A-list cast, but do your fucking homework, Jason. He wants to know where the emotion was, as it didn't have fire and passion until the end, which he thinks isn't good enough. Robin, on the other hand, liked that the emotion wasn't forced, and that Jennifer is coping with what Sylvain is asking of her, since he's probably one of the fastest male skaters they've got.

Phil warns us that the next VT, featuring Denise and Matt, involves underwear. And it isn't Matt's.

*switches off TV, concludes recap early, goes to bed*

Oh, okay, fine. But Matt had better be in his underwear next week, you hear me? Chris thinks Denise's skate last week wasn't her best, and Denise agrees - she was thrilled to get through despite underperforming. This week she's got a slow track to perform to, which lends itself to longer lines and more sophistication. Denise thinks she's not terribly sophisticated, and flashes her knickers to the camera to prove it. Denise finds the routine a challenge because it's more technical and she's got to work "twice as hard". She has a bit of a crisis of confidence, at which point Lovely Matt is Lovely, of course, and reassures her that she can do it. Denise says that she needs to stop being such a baby. "Just grow up, Denise!" she admonishes.

They're skating to 'Slow' by Rumer, which means we have a literal case of SLOW OVER THE ICE. Nicky must be so happy. It's not a bad performance, actually. Denise is pretty dependent on Matt - perhaps not as dependent as Kerry is on Dan, but not far off. Some of her lines still need work, but there is some good dancing from her here, and they do a good job of making the routine sweet rather than sleazy. There are a few stumbles, mind. Scores: Jason 3.5, Robin 3.0, Emma 3.5 for a total of 10.0. Denise says that being told to be sophisticated always makes her rebel a bit, but she loved it out there and loved this song, which she was so excited to dance to. She's disappointed not to get higher marks, but she's not going to beat herself up about it like she did last week. Lovely Matt says that Denise's confidence was shaken last week, but she's pulled herself up and he's proud of her. Chris thinks Denise had a lot more coverage OVER THE ICE in this number.

Jason says that he thought it was an improvement from last week, and he thinks the lyrical style played to her strengths. He thinks her lines and her dismounts still need work. Robin likes that we could see the mechanics of Denise's skating. Bunto thought Denise was more elegant and soft, but thinks Denise needs to work on her core strength. I think based on the comments they gave and indeed her actual performance, she probably deserved slightly higher marks. Not massively, but I don't think she deserved to be tied with Kerry at the bottom.

Teaser VT! There will be skills tests coming up in future weeks! Steps! Jumps! Spins! Since the required element is MIA, may I say it's about fucking time. They'll also be facing the ultimate skills test in three weeks, whatever that might mean.

Final ad break!

Up next it's Sam, who may well be the best skater here, but is such a personality vortex that I'd forgotten he existed until just now. Last week, his performance "set the competition alight", thinks Chris. Sam thinks that he needs to step it up again to remain on top. Jayne tells us that Sam is ambitious and wants to do more challenging lifts. However, he knackered his shoulder in the first week and that's bothering him this week, to the extent that he drops Brianne in rehearsals. Sam goes to physio, where he is filmed from an unflattering angle and reveals very hairy armpits. His biggest lift doesn't quite come off in the dress rehearsal, and he's worried that he might drop Brianne when she's 8ft in the air. Interestingly, in the so-called "dress rehearsal", he is wearing a slightly different outfit. TV FAKERY!

They're skating to 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', and it's an impressive routine for sure. The big lift comes off properly, and you can see the utter glee on Brianne's face, though the dismount is a little shaky. He is so far ahead of the others, skating-wise, that I do kind of wonder why we're even bothering with the competition, to be perfectly honest. Gubba tells everyone that Brianne weighs 6.5 stone. She's such a tiny wee thing. [That's HALF A STONE more than FRANKIE! - Carrie] Scores: Jason 8.5, Robin 8.5, Emma 8.0 for a total of 25.0 again. Sam says that he thought it would be a bad score because he made a few mistakes. Brianne says that "it was a messy number anyway" so Sam had room to be sloppy. That old excuse, eh? Phil asks them if they're shagging, and they kind of mumble incoherently. Jayne says that it was a very difficult routine where he couldn't afford to miss a beat, and he didn't. Chris says that even with a few mistakes, he stayed on top of it.

Robin says he saw the mistakes, which is why it wasn't a 9.0. He loves that Sam is a cohesive package where the skating blends with the musicality and choreography. Jason calls him "skating Viagra" and says that everything rises when Sam and Brianne take to the ice. EWWWWWW. He commends Sam for making the lifts look easy. Bunto agrees, and thinks that Sam might be holding back a bit. She asks if he's got more to give. Sam, who's really bad at the whole spontaneity thing, looks to Brianne for an answer. She's probably not going to know, dear.

Finally, we have Dave and FRANKIE!, who pulls a mad face for us. He got mixed reviews last week, and this week he's skating to 'Achy Breaky Heart' by Billy Ray Cyrus, which he and FRANKIE! find hilarious. Karen and Jayne giggle helplessly in rehearsals as FRANKIE! tries to teach Dave how to hoedown. Dave's family come to visit him, which he's very happy about, although his daughter finds the whole thing a bit bizarre, as well she might. His daughter's kind of adorable, actually. She calls him "super-duper ace". Awwwww. I WANT ONE.

They skate out, and FRANKIE! slaps his arse. Chris Moyles calls out "I love you, Daddy!" Somewhere, Gary Lucy is failing to see the funny side of this. Dave does a hoedown ON ICE which is actually not terrible. The skating part of the routine is a bit hit-and-miss, probably with more misses than hits, but - and judge me for this all you like - I found it quite entertaining. Scores: Jason 3.0, Robin 4.0, Emma 4.0 for a score of 11.0. Dave is pleased that his score is getting slightly better. He thinks the routine was fun, and says that he's given himself a stitch. FRANKIE!, who clearly misses Nicky as much as I do, reminds the judges that the show is called DANCING ON ICE and that Dave was dancing from the very beginning, and asks if they're watching another channel. Chris declares her "feisty", and thinks Dave is definitely progressing.

Robin answers FRANKIE!'s complaints by pointing out that it's "smoke and mirrors", and says that if Dave wants to compete with the other guys (...and the girls, presumably) he'll need barrel rolls, crossovers, and bigger lifts. Jason says that he enjoys watching Dave, and it fascinates him that "someone so committed is just so average". Dave thinks average is "better than last week". Karen thinks it was Dave's best routine, saying that normally when he skates, "for health and safety reasons, I'm glad when it's over." Hee. Bunto thinks this routine really suited him and that his confidence is back.

LEADERBOARD ON ICE. Sam at the top, then Laura, then Chloe, then Jennifer, then Vanilla Ice, then Johnson, then Jeff, then a two-way tie between Dominic and Dave, and another between Kerry and Denise. Phil opens the lines, and then we're treated (if that's the word) to a recap. And if you need one of those, you can re-read all of the above.

So, who will survive The Ice Pick? We'll find out soon enough.

The Skate-Off

Phil informs us in a sombre fashion that the lines have closed, and now we and the judges are powerless to determine who goes home - it's all down to the contestants themselves. It's SHOCK TWIST o'clock, folks!

Post-titles, Phil and Holly return to the ice domain, and run through the twist once more. Phil asks whether the celebrities will "save a friend, or betray a rival". Can you really 'betray' a rival, as such? Time for the recap with added bonus footage! Chloe got all leathered up, and is still fearing the skate-off. Her famous father Richard Madeley says she's covered in bruises, but he's very proud of her. Bunto liked Johnson's rhythm, and Johnson is not especially worried about the skate-off - he's just going to enjoy the show. Jeff recovered well from his fall, and he admits that this is the first time he's ever fallen over doing that arabesque. Kerry was too reliant on Daniel, but she's enjoying herself - though she confesses to being "really annoyed" by the comments. Heh. Vanilla Ice recovered well from his injury in training, and is really happy with the way things turned out. Dominic's performance got slated by Jason, but Dominic says that he had a ball, and then tries the "let's see if he can do my job" tactic. Laura didn't quite land her wrist ripper, but otherwise did well, and she says that high scores are all well and good, but she knows you need public support as well. Bunto thinks Jennifer needed to be more independent, and Jennifer grouses backstage that Chris and Jayne didn't choreograph any skating for her to do on her own in this routine. Sylvain's chest is also there when this happens. Denise improved a bit but still got low scores, and can't decide whether she's more worried about being in the ice pick or having to decide between two others. Phil and Holly think the skate-off will be an emotional moment. Sam was "skating Viagra" (oh sure, repeat that bit) and does not know who he'll pick in the ice pick. No attempt at pretending he's in danger, I notice. Karen thought Dave gave his best routine to date, and Dave thinks that it's going to be tough to avoid the skate-off because everyone's getting better. Except all the people who didn't really.

Holly's with the judges, and asks for their final thoughts. Robin wants them to think like competitors and judges, and make a decision that they will be able to live with tomorrow. Calm down, Robin, they're not sending someone to death row. Phil has the results. *touches ear* In no particular order, the couples who are safe and back next week are: Denise and Lovely Matt (both of whom are utterly shocked), Vanilla Ice and Katie, Sam and Brianne, Dave and FRANKIE! (who politely wishes everyone else good luck as she skates off), Laura and Colin, and Jennifer and Sylvain. And this is where it gets hilarious for those of us who enjoy schadenfreude, because after Jennifer and Sylvain have hugged and cheered and we cut away to the wide shot, we see them skating away - and also Jeff and Isabelle, who seem to think that they're safe. There's some confusion, and then Phil clarifies that it's Jennifer and Sylvain who are safe, and Jeff and Isabelle have to slink back into the line. Heeheehee. I'm a terrible person. The last few safe spots in the competition go to: Johnson and Jodeyne, Chloe and Michael, and Kerry and Daniel. Which leaves Jeff and Isabelle and Dominic and Alexandra in the skate-off. But not before an ad break.

When we return, it's time for the skate-off. Jayne says that they never know how the public will vote. Chris thinks the celebrities need to vote with their heads and not their hearts. Jeff and Isabelle are out first to reprise their number. This time he doesn't fall during the arabesque, though it's still a bit wobbly, and overall it's a pretty decent performance. Certainly better than it was the first time around, to the extent that Jeff punches the air when he finishes. Steady on. He tells Phil that this was a much better performance, and he feels like he's in an easy position - it's the others who've got the hard choice. Isabelle says that they really needed to do it again properly to make sure Jeff's confidence wasn't knocked.

Dominic and Alexandra return and reprise their routine from earlier. It's pretty much the same it was earlier, with perhaps a touch more confidence than previously, though still lacking much of a performance from Corky. I suspect he knew he was doomed from the outset here. He tells Phil he's getting used to the skate-off, and tells Alexandra that she's brilliant. Like Jeff, he's pleased not to have to make a difficult decision, and tells the other skaters to vote with their hearts. Chris thinks it was a great performance, and Dominic skated with more confidence this time.

Jeff and Dominic head back out onto the ice, and Phil explains that the celebs will come out one by one, and skate to the person they want to save. I missed this part first time around, which is why I thought Chloe Madeley had forgotten to say who she was saving when she suddenly skated off, but I'm getting ahead of myself here. So, first out of the tunnel is Chloe, who says she loves them both, and hates having to make this decision. She says she wants to save the person who's been there with her from the beginning and will continue to progress - she skates over to Jeff. Johnson is next, and says that he's going to save the person he thinks will make a lot of progress, and skates over to Dominic. Kerry is third, and Phil says that he'll put his arm out for her "because she's not the best at stopping". Snerk. Kerry says she's going to save this person for being consistent, and skates over to Jeff. Vanilla Ice comes out and says that he's going to be "diplomatic and classy" and flip a coin. It's tails, which means Jeff, apparently, even though he didn't specify which side of the coin was attributed to which person, nor did we actually see the outcome of the flip with our own eyes. So that wasn't terribly helpful. Still, it's not the first time the words "Dancing On Ice" and "pointless toss" have been used in close proximity. Laura's next, and says that she enjoyed both performances, but she thinks this person has more to give, and skates over to Jeff. Jennifer is next and says that she's going to save a top skater with loads of spark who'll help her to progress each week, and skates over to Jeff. That gives him a majority, but we'll see what the others had to say anyway. Denise arrives and says she just wants it over with: she loves them both, but wants to vote with her heart, and skates over to Dominic. Sam skates out and fails to articulate himself again, but mumbles that he thinks this person has more to give, and skates over to Jeff. Dave's last to vote and says that he hopes he isn't losing a friend, but he's going to skate over to Dominic. With six votes to three, Jeff survives to skate again next week.

Phil calls Dominic over to join him, and we see his best bits. These involve skating like a stick insect, learning a bit of ballet, being chummy with Alexandra, having fun in rehearsals, and generally enjoying the whole experience. It's a shame this wasn't more evident during his time on the show really. He tells Phil that Alexandra is a top professional, and hopes she'll survive the inevitable cull between this series and next. Alexandra says she reminds him why she loves to skate. The money? Dominic says he's loved the whole thing, "even the judges". They take to the ice again for their lap of honour, and Phil reminds us that next week the contestants will have to learn a new skill, and it will be Vegas week [which will not be as good as the Vegas week they did when the Barrowman was Elvis - Carrie]. Holly thanks everyone involved in the making of the show since time immemorial, and we're done. Carrie will be here next week [assuming I stay awake - Carrie], and I'll be back in a fortnight. See you then!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Rhythm of the shite

First week of REAL competition!
Tx Sunday 23rd January 2011

Welcome back to nonsensical ice-dance extravaganza Dancing on Ice! In case you've not been keeping up, we've sloughed off all the dead wood (ie the contestants you may have heard of, plus a woman famous for her bed partner), we have a judging panel that is one-third useful, and some incredibly bloated shows. On the plus side, we still have Jayne and Chris, and that's always a good thing, right?

We begin with a reminder that the show is persisting with the farcical idea that the competition has not yet started, despite there being a) judging, b) competition and c) voting in the previous fortnight. "You chose them!" our presenters inform me. I bloody did not. If I chose a Dancing on Ice line-up it wouldn't include a celebrity drink-driving child or Jeff bloody Brazier, I'm telling you that now. Anyway, so they remind us of who the contestants are, which is just as well, because I swear I don't recognise half these people, even though I saw them last week. They are: Dave and Frankie no-surnames; Kerry Katona and Dan; Johnson Beharry VC and Jodeyne; Chloe Madeley and Michael; Steven Arnold and Nina; Denise Welch and Matt (in a CROP TOP); Vanilla Ice ON ICE and Katie; Dominic Cork and Alexandra; Laura not-famous Hamilton and Colin; Jeff Brazier and Isabelle; Sam not-famous Attwater and Brianne; and Jennifer Metcalfe and Sylvain.

Here are the judges. And much to my disappointment, there is no shock! twist! - just the trio we've put up with for the previous fortnight, two of whom are utterly superfluous. Still, looking on the bright side, the other one is Robin Cousins. They pose in front of their desk and look smug.

First up tonight we have Vanilla Ice ON ICE and Katie. It is greatly saddening that the cast of DoI persist in calling Vanilla Ice "Rob". I shall not be doing the same. Katie goads him into practising hard moves, including a big lift up on to his shoulder, by calling him a wimp. And...that's pretty much it. (Spoiler alert: I've looked ahead this evening and every single one of the pre-skate VTs is a pointless piece of time filler.) They're skating to Minnie The Moocher and Vanilla Ice has his nails painted black (/adds marks). He then mimes along to the words, although I'm not sure he's supposed to be all the time. Hey ho. The tricksy lift, where she's perched on his shoulder, comes off fine, though the camera work is abysmal as usual. Scores - Jason 5, Robin 6, Emma 5 for a total of 16, but remember they are now marking out of 10 (or 20, as it seems they are going to do half-marks) rather than 6 (or 12, if you count the half-marks). Vanilla Ice informs us that this is not music he is familiar with; Katie says she had to tell him to chill out. Jayne and Chris beam like proud parents. Phil asks, "Standards high?" and then re-phrases, "High standards?" Over with the pointless judges, Emma liked it but wants him to stop slouching, Robin agrees and praises him for the execution of the lift, and we are reminded that Jason marked him down last time because he was worried about the future routines that he might do because he is a TWAT. Karen pulls a classic face, and then says that she forgot they had skates on because it was so entertaining, and she will forget about the mistakes. Stupidly, Robin and Jason go, "That's why we're here!" and Karen says, "That's why I'm here as well!" which I am choosing to read as a commentary on the judging panel revamp. [Yeah, it's a shame that "here" for Karen is sitting on a sad individual chair halfway across the room. - Steve] AAARGH.

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We are welcomed back after the break with the news that Bunton and Jade out of Damage have (finally) announced their engagement. About bloody time. [And yet...you'd think if it had been in the offing for that long, you'd find a classier way of announcing it than during the adverts on Dancing ON ICE. - Steve] Chloe and Michael are next to skate, and brilliantly she hams it up backstage, pretending to scold him for not buying her a ring. Then we're into the VT, and we learn that Chloe is doing that 'frog lift' (acording to Gubba) that Sinitta did and nearly castrated my poor Andrei. Michael takes his trousers off to show us his war wounds (fnar), which just look like a couple of paper cuts to me. However, nobody seems to be injured even though Chloe is panicking, so this is all a bit exaggerated about something that might happen but probably won't. Let's get on, shall we? They're skating to The Climb, and Chloe really is good. She's graceful, she's brisk, and she looks lovely; she and Michael make a nice couple ON ICE. Their movements match each other well and they clearly get on, which is good too. There's a great bit where Chloe wheels out some Chris Dean literal choreography - reaching her hand up on the word "high". Gubba has many lolz at a Frenchman doing a 'frog lift', the Louis Walshesque racist. Scores - Jason 5.5, Robin 7.0 and Emma 6.5 for a total of 19.0. Everyone is glad that Michael still has his penis and testicles intact. Robin points out that Chris is wrong and it's actually a harder lift than Sinitta did because her partner is on a different edge. Jason is incredibly offensive and gets booed. Bunton says some crap.

Ads! Are we seriously going to have a break after EVERY SINGLE CONTESTANT? It certainly seems so.

Last week, Denise got told by Jason that she looked like Matt's mum. She is having none of it: "It's cougar time!" And wouldn't you just know it, she's going to skate this week to Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight), because this show is all about class. Chris tells her, "You'll have a line-up of boys!" Denise beams. She and Matt go off to Mamma Mia! because that's the best way to learn about great choreography. And then back on the rink, what the fuck? Denise skates on alone, looking like Kate Monster from Avenue Q with a big open-mouthed grin, then actually does have a line-up of boys to choose from, Matt tears off his navy clothes hiding his golden croptop, and the routine eventually begins, but this is rubbish and it's partly the choreography's fault. Straight 3.0s for a total of 9.0 and she's lucky to get that. Denise wails about having a senior moment and failing to feel the beat. Matt wails about not knowing where she was until she felt him (fnar). Jason says "spunk" and I snigger. Robin says it isn't a question of confidence, it's allowing herself to have fun with it. Bunton says Denise is fun to watch even though Matt is carrying her round the ice. What? Jason interjects, "Really?" and he's right for once.

Ooh, no ads, straight on to Dom and Alexandra. He wants to impress people this week, and Chris tells us how adventurous he is, and they've put in a death spiral at the end. We know how this is going to end, don't we, children? Yes, they have a fall during the dress rehearsal and Dom cracks his knee. According to Twitter earlier, it was questionable whether they'd skate or not, so it's good news that they are. Dom's skating is a little tentative, but he whacks on a smile and gets round; even though the lift is dodgy the death spiral is very good. Alex looks like she's going to cry with pride. Scores - Jason 3.0, Robin 4.5 and Emma 4.0 for a total of 11.5. Dom admits he was worried prior to the lift, but wanted to enjoy it. He enthuses once more about how much he loves Dancing ON ICE. Alexandra reminds us that Corky is a SPORTSMAN. Bunton says that Dom has improved a little bit but is a selfish performer, and concludes: "I don't know what to say." Well, fuck off then. Jason says Dom is missing a yellow brick road. What? Karen reluctantly agrees with Jason but then points out that Dom embodies the spirit of DANCING ON ICE. Robin says that now Dom knows how to fall, he can get on with the rest of it.

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A fortnight ago, Laura wasn't famous, but was good at skating; this week, it's much the same. They're loading on the tough choreography for her, and she reminds us that she's a novice skater. The lifts they're programming look awful, and she's making hideous grunting noises as she attempts to haul herself into them. Karen shouts at her to calm down. They're skating to All The Lovers, and bosomwatchers will be pleased to note that Laura's are present and correct albeit slightly better strapped down than last time round. The routine isn't as fluid as the first one but it's much more technically demanding and all the lifts seem to work. Scores - Jason 6.0, Robin 6.5 and Emma 7.0 for a total of 19.5. Laura and Colin gabble insanely at Phil. Jason says he can see why the public saved her, and he loves to watch their partnership (which he calls "enigmatic" - does he know what that word means?). He then tells her she has "stumpy legs", which isn't strictly true, but if he means that her leg-lines need to be extended at times, then he's right. Still, why say something constructive when something offensive will do?

In the first week, Steven and Nina and their comedy routine were rubbish. The day after the first show, Steven doesn't bother turning up to rehearsal. Everyone bitches about him in his absence, and then he VTs that he slept through his alarm. Plonker. Nina then has to try to teach him Chris's choreography - "I am here to KICK YOUR ASS!" she announces. Steven moans about having a tough start to the fortnight. Well, turn up to rehearsal then, you fool. They're skating to Rhythm of the Night, and Steven keeps biting his lips and then pouting when he's doing the dance moves. Is that what passes for club dancing these days? He's not leading, and he's very slow. Ugly routine. Scores - Jason 2.0, Robin 2.5 and Emma 2.5 for a total of 7.0. Jayne and Chris lie that he did well. Robin says the routine was enjoyable for the wrong reasons and the skating was poor, even though he appreciates he is doing his best. Jason clearly has no time for Steven at all, and criticises his lack of commitment. Steven agrees with Phil that the comments are harsh and he knows that he doesn't have any natural ability but he will give it his all. Except for the days when he's going to stay in bed instead.

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Phil has a little row with the audience who are giggling while he reads the autocue, and then has a chat with Hayley STAR OF STAGE AND SCREEN Tamaddon, who reveals that she picked his suit for him this week. Kyran Bracken is next to Hayley, but he gets completely ignored.

Time for Jeff and Isabelle! He is pleased that Emma is so vapid that she increases people's marks based on whether she fancies them or not. In rehearsal, Jeff complains about not having done things before, including spinning on the spot. He cheerfully admits that he was rubbish in his first routine, but will endeavour not to be now that the judges' scores will count for something. That's good of him, isn't it? They're skating to I Want You Back, and I'm guessing that Jeff isn't supposed to be half a beat out with Isabelle. He also falls out of his spin, demonstrating why he was worried about it. Are they going to bring in required elements again this year? I hope so. Scores - Jason 3.0, Robin 4.0 and Emma 4.0 for a total of 11.0. Jeff says he put a lot of work in, but just didn't do it correctly. He then jabbers on about being drunk at a barbecue, because he is a Man of the People. Brazier then warns Jason about his mates in the audience who are experts at "group insemination" oh HAHAHAHAHA, and confesses he dropped his "little petite filoue" on her face in rehearsal. Chris and Jayne lie that he did well. Jason says the Jackson Five are tight and punchy, and his dancing is sloppy - "it's almost like you're missing a couple of chromosomes." Jeff makes some more helpful vaguely homophobic comments. Karen tells Jason that Jeff's errors were down to nerves and there is no need to be offensive. Robin says he agrees with everyone, because blessed are the peacemakers. Emma says she will back off now she is engaged. That's a relief for all concerned.

The no-surname twins now. Last week they did robotics to The Safety Dance; Chris hopes they do not continue that kind of choreography this week. Frankie shouts at Dave throughout the rehearsal as Chris likens him to a Thunderbird. What is to be done? Of course, send him off to Pineapple Dance Studios. Dave is sure that his one single dance lesson will have been invaluable. They're skating to The Way You Look Tonight (I love the way YOU look EVERY night, Chandler Bing!) and Dave has done his hair in the style of Ray Quinn in homage to the 50s, of course. His arms still look horrible, but his skating isn't too bad, despite his musical ear being non-existent. Gubba nudges us in case we hadn't realised it was supposed to be a Rat Pack routine. Scores - Jason 2.5, Robin 3.5, Emma 3.5 for a total of 9.5. Dave doesn't know how he feels about that, but he's enjoying himself. That's the main thing, eh? Phil laughs at Dave looking like he's going to fall over and then not. Jayne giggles a bit about the Thunderbird arms not quite disappearing yet. Robin says it is hard to be loose and carefree (and does a little wiggle in his seat) and then talks about the money shot. I'm not sure he meant to say that. Jason says Dave can't dance, perform or find a beat, but he can't stop looking at him despite that. Emma says they were all laughing at him and wasn't sure whether they should have been or not.

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Jen and Sylvain now! She likens getting through the skate-off last week to having a baby. No, I don't know either. She moans incessantly about the fact that she has a full-time job as well as doing Dancing on Ice. Seriously, bitch, don't even try that shit. If you've not got time to do the show, don't fucking do it. I haven't really got time to spend a Sunday evening recapping your feeble whining, and it would be much easier with one fewer couple to write about. They skate to California Gurls and Sylvain camps it up ridiculously, flexing his biceps [this is relevant to my interests - Steve] and hurling Jen around the ice. There's a bit of a stumble on some of the through-leg swings, but it's mostly good. Scores - Jason 6.0, Robin 7.0 and Emma 6.5 for a joint-top total of 19.5. Phil asks after Jen's leg, and she reckons she'd forgotten about it. Everyone points and laughs at Sylvain for being scared of blood. Jason says that Jen is good but Sylvain hides some of her flaws. Robin concurs but says it in a nicer way. Emma wants Jen to rein in her energy to have a little more control.

Next, Sam and Brianne, who are going to do a lyrical routine. This week they are mostly dangering it up with a table-top lift, during which Brianne is going to let go of his wrists and rely totally on him. Sucker. Sam is trying to act 'intense', I think, which is funny; they do the table-top lift well, although the landing is clunky. Scores - Jason 8.0, Robin 8.5 and Emma 8.5 for a total of 25.0. Brianne says the table-top lift felt great. Freak. Emma says Sam performs with ease and lifts Brianne effortlessly. Holly says something stupid about Sam being as good as a pro. Robin laughs kindly.

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Johnson and Jodeyne now. Chris reminds us that some fucking mentalist shouted, "You're a hero!" at Johnson before he started his first routine. However, rather than calling the fucking mentalist a fucking mentalist, as is right and proper, Chris says it put a lump in his throat. In rehearsal over the past fortnight, Johnson has mostly been breaking a finger because a skate fell on it., which we know because he told us last week, and apparently nothing else has happened since then. They're skating to Something Good. Johnson isn't the most musical of individuals but he does skate quite well, managing a few one-footed jumps. Scores - Jason 4.0, Robin 4.5, Emma 4.5 for a total of 13.0. Johnson is all, pfft, broken finger, what, and Jodeyne, bless her, is all, "He's had such a tough time!" In reference to a broken finger. When he's been shelled. And got a VC. Oh, Jodeyne. Jason praises Johnson's attitude, taking it as a chance to castigate some of the others a bit more, and suggests some dance classes, which Johnson says he might consider.

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Finally, FINALLY - Kerry and Daniel. She has mostly spent rehearsal time screeching. Dan says he has to push her because her confidence is like a rollercoaster; Kerry says she wants to be a skater and then starts spouting some stream of consciousness into the camera. And that is the sum total of their VT. They are skating to Respect, and Kerry catches her toe picks a few times, and the execution of the steps is a little ragged. Still, Dan manages to throw her around and put in some decent lifts regardless, which is nice. Scores - Jason 4.0, Robin 5.0 and Emma 5.0 for a total of 14.0. Kerry witters on about being full of attitude; Dan says that he has RESPECT for Kerry and then mocks her for thinking her boobs had fallen out of her dress. Robin says Kerry brings life to the ice, and Jason says that Kerry doesn't do enough work by herself. Emma, though, cannot fault Kerry's performance. So why give her a 5.0 then, if you can't fault it? Idiot. [I took "I can't fault that performance" to mean that Bunton was admitting she's not supposed to be judging this show. - Steve]

Right. That's everyone done. Sam and Brianne are top; Steven and Nina are bottom. All is as it should be. Tune in one hour from now to see people who can skate getting eliminated in favour of morons who are rubbish!

Results show

Drama! Earlier 12 couples skated for our votes, and gave it their all - but two must skate off, and one must leave! The lines have closed and the results will be revealed (to Phil's ear) very shortly! Drama drama!

Titles!

Phil welcomes us back and he and Holly quickly go over the rules for us once again, reminding us that the judges' decision is final. Thunder and lightning crash; "MWAHAHAHAHA!" cackles Phil, who I believe may be opting for the preferable choice of drinking while watching this show. [Suddenly his utter refusal to every do any skating himself makes a lot more sense. - Steve]

Recap! Vanilla Ice says he will not make any excuses and then makes some excuses; Chloe was a bit upset about Jason likening her arse to a baboon's, as you would be; Denise loves being part of the show (she's expecting a low phone turn-out then); Dom reassures us that he and Alex are trying their hardest; Laura seems relatively OK with being told that she has stumpy legs, and Colin nods his head; Steven is going to listen to what the judges say (and maybe turn up to practice); Jeff...also seems drunk, and expects to be in the skate-off; Dave thinks the scores were too harsh; Jen admits she forgot some of her routine; Sam was close to crying when his scores came in, the big baby; Johnson says he used to go clubbing but never went on the dance floor, as Jodeyne giggles; Dan reassures Kerry that he thinks they've done enough to get through, and they agree that they're both happy.

Holly's with the judges. Jason says there is a little bit of potential in the line-up, and you can already see who will step up and who will not cope well with the pressure. Robin tells the skaters to forget what happened earlier. Thanks, Robin!

Results time, but the little ticker is in the top right-hand corner of the screen, so we know what will happen - and yes, Phil throws right to the break before revealing who's safe. Oh, Phil. You and your ways.

OK, read now, Schofield? Yes, indeed, he touches his ear, and our safe couples are - Kerry and Dan; Sam and Brianne; Dave and Frankie; Johnson and Jodeyne; Laura and Colin; Vanilla Ice ON ICE and Katie; Jeff and Isabelle; Jen and Sylvain; Chloe and Michael (who I'd actually forgotten about and didn't know who they were when he announced the names); and Denise and Matt.

So Dom and Alex skate off against Steven and Nina, and weirdly, that seems almost fair. Jayne says the public have mostly gone with the judges' scoring, so this is a second chance. Chris knows that Dom can do better and had been thrown by the fall earlier, and Steven just...has to be less shit, in summary.

Dom and Alex perform their routine much better this time, and they are both tearful at the end. And LOOK! There is Mark Ramprakash! Former Strictly champions who also play cricket are frequenting the DoI studios! Steven and Nina do their routine; he's gurning much less, and it occurs to me that even though some of these contestants are shit at dancing, they seem to be better at skating than the worst ones in previous years - Todd Carty, for example.

The judges' decisions - Jason is sad that it isn't a double eviction, because he is a graceless classless tossbag, but saves Dominic; Emma saves Dominic; Robin smacks Jason down because he is a nice man and knows how to behave, and says he is glad it is not a double eviction and he knows we will see more from Dominic, and saves him. [My latest realisation about how crap this new judging set-up is: since Bunto and Jason are basically the same person, Robin's vote is going to count for shit-all in the skate-off. - Steve]

So Steven and Nina are out, which is basically what was foreshadowed from the start of this episode. He thanks her for being like a big sister to him; Chris fibs that Steven is a lot of fun, and says that he is glad that Nina is not his partner (because she is assertive and a bit shouty and control-freaky, and there's not room for two of those in a skating duo).

Ooh, and scary dramatic VT from Robin saying that he is going to reveal some news to the skaters, and he and Jayne and Chris confirm that this could change the course of the competition. Ooh, are they going to get in some judges that know about skating? That would be good. But we won't find out until next week! Or maybe tomorrow, when people will be talking about it on Twitter! Regardless, join us next week to find out!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Rivas weep, McLachlan bye

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.)

Titles!

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?

MOAR ADVERTISING.

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.

The Skate-Off

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?