Thursday, October 30, 2008


Well, we were faar too busy to blog the week-before-last's, but Don Warrington went, and I thought that was a bit of a travesty, and muttered about it on Facebook instead.

This week though, EEEEEEEEK! We got tickets for the show! It was all very last-minute, and Mr P had to stay at home with a bag of crisps and a cold-ridden small child. We went with Mark's lovely partner, E, and the lovely N, tanked up on surprisingly good BBC wine, and adrenalin.

There were still loads of couples to get through, so there wasn't much time to hang about. We were ushered up to a seat on the balcony, away from the celebs on the ground floor, and not on the front row either. We protested mildly, but was told cryptically that they were "the best seats in the us..." Mobiles and cameras were banned, but I did manage to sneak a moby pic of the stage while they were still setting up for Enrique Iglesias (cue disappointed groans from the cheap seats) A small army of women dressed in black, sporting radio headsets and clipboards, were clustered on the dance floor. We weren't quite sure what they did, but whatever it was involved bustling into the middle of the dance floor and chatting urgently with another clipboard carrier, and hugging Kenny Logan. Oh yes, and Dominic Littlewood was there. Ew.

Before we had time to get too sweaty, considering we were right behind a massive lamp that was pumping out greenhouse-style heat right onto our seats, on came a Dale Winton looky-likey who took us through the "Clap You BASTARDS!" routine, and told us how the evening would pan out. This is when we found out that there was no escape from Enrique Iglesias. The judges came on to muted applause, and Len wondered out loud if he looked "like a penis" in his strange 1970s Northern Club compere grey suit. A penis wearing one of those special issue NHS STD-proof condoms that were temporarily popular during the first big HIV/AIDS scare, perhaps.


Kenny and Gaby were in the celeb front row. Kenny bounced around, hugging the floor crew, while Gaby chatted aloofly to various other celeb guests. We also saw Adrian Chiles with two children, who he seemed to ignore in favour of networking with other celebs. There was scurrilous speculation in the cheap seats that it was probably his access day. Meanwhile everybody was surprisingly deferential to Charles Kennedy (looking good), and Alan Hansen (who is quite tall, even when you're looking down on him) strode over to be Scottish with him and Kenny. We were so busy trying to work out who Adrian Chiles was going to network with next, that we didn't notice the front row on the other side of the floor, which was: Noddy Holder, Sue Johnston, Bradley and Dadley (who didn't speak or look at each other), and assorted relatives. We also saw Vernon Kaye and his very sweet little daughter, Roger Black, and Rain Man Charlie Slater. Anybody else we either didn't recognise, or they were under our balcony seat.

Enrique Iglesias was actually OK. He sang that sodding Hero song in tune, and was very professional, so we only had to endure one take. The dancers rumbaed around, with the women wearing bizarre batwing dress-o-tard type outfits. They were a bit ropey and out of time, but it looked like the swoopy camera covered for the ropiness. Then we got the Jersey Boys, who sang a Four Seasons song, naturally, since Jersey Boys is a musical about the Four Seasons - except I had to explain to the Young 'Uns who the Four Seasons were, which made me feel very old indeed. They were a bit thin and nervous, but the group dance samba was less ropey, so they had to go again. But who should walk in and take the seats in front of us, but....


Yep, in they walked with their lady companions, and we tried to look cool while taking secret pictures with our mobiles. Ant looks like he's been eating a few pies, and Dec looks even more like my mate Nige. Dec's lady companion was Sham off Easties-when-we-used-to-blog-it, and he kept casually putting his arm across her back, and then pulling it away when he realised that the civilians behind him were going: "ooooo!" and nudging each other.

Anyway, they were very quiet, and laughed politely at Bruce's lamer jokes, but didn't clap when they were told. God only knows what they were doing in the cheap seats, but maybe their status as Kings of ITV Saturday Night means that they can't be seen to be supporting BBC programmes or something.


Oh yes, the dancing...

Boobwatch: Tess's dress was OK. She seems to have made up with the costume dept for this series


A rather sedate Paso, and Lisa's dress was pretty. We did like the Eye of the Tiger theme too, though Brendan should have taken it to the extreme and worn a little tigger mask. Lisa prowled around the stage waving her arms in a vaguely flamenco style. I didn’t think it was much good, but little did we know that it would be all downhill from there, paso wise. Bruno thought it was more like Vogueing than a proper Paso Doble, and Lisa got told to watch her shoulders.




A Viennese waltz to Annie's Song, which is a proper waltz tempo, I suppose. Andrew got the feet right, and we saw footage of him being tied to Ola using a Pilates band to stop his bum sticking out. Andrew was all right whenever he was in hold, but reverted to total Dad Dancer whenever he was left to his own devices.

Len declared that "Bumgate is no longer an issue", and Craig was almost nice. We in the cheap seats were not.




Christine Presenternator Paso-ed to Xtina Aguilera's Stronger, and made lots of duck faces to prove that she had PASSION. The judges weren't impressed. Arlene said it wasn't dramatic enough, and we were a bit meh too. But that might be because N said Ant had just farted.




OK, he still looks like Brains off Thunderbirds, but he's actually rather cute from the neck down. And I was so NOT checking him out in the bar afterwards, so don't listen to Mark. The waltz was quite light and twinkly. Bruno said it was like watching The Return of the King. If he means the final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I think I fell asleep during one of the interminable battle scenes (perhaps he means it had fifteen fake endings, dragged out for eons…). Anyway, Craig was a bit meh, and we saw Len do a great "hate Craig" face. The fleckles were good, apparently.




Ooh, this was a bit clunky, and there seems to be something in Cherie's contract that she can only wear monochrome. She stumbled right at the beginning of the dance, patently setting off in the wrong direction, and took her time to get back into the mood. The judges were quite kind, though




Heather wore a pretty fuschia dress that did wonders for her rack. Up in the cheap seats, there was a heated debate between me and E about whether Brian was good or not. Actually in the flesh, he's more like the results of a twisted experiment to clone John Waters with Donny Osmond, and the gaydar was going crazy. Still, he's a damn fine dancer, and the waltz was really nice. Craig hated it.


ACTUAL JUDGES: 27 - boo!


Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. Mark's boobs are bigger than mine, and the dance was stompy and out of time and featured many sections with Mark just running around at random. Vernon got a bit over-excited at Craig calling it a "painful shambles", but it was. Sorry Vernon. Mind you, Mark does have an absolutely incredible body...

CHEAP SEATS VERDICT: 8 (E gave it -4)



He had to interrupt his honeymoon to train with Camilla, who dragged him from the marital bed. Poor old Mrs Tom, is what I say. Tom had his slicked down 15-year-old-boy-from-WW2 hair back in effect. He comes across as a bit of a smug tosser, but the dance was very good indeed. The judges loved, except Len, who didn't like the missed fleckles.




Hilarious. Xtina was in a glittery dress in Palace colours, so they were doomed from the off. Most of the time, Kristina danced like a maniac while John stomped around to a vaguely military tempo, though there was a funny bit where he dragged her along the floor “like he was taking out the recycling”, and there was also a lift! Woo!




N and I agreed that her 1950s prom dress was all wrong and kept rucking up in the wrong places, but the dance (to Everybody Hurts by REM), was pretty good. Len, who was surprisingly arsey and under generous with the points all night, wasn't excited. Len, the suit isn’t that bad!




We nearly packed up at this point, but then there was ONE MORE COUPLE TO GO. Well, they weren't very good, to be honest, with more of the Lisa style voguing and arm wavery. I initially gave them a 7 because I quite like Jodie, but E persuaded me to mark her down a bit.



After the show ended, we got packed off to the bar to drink another bottle of suprisingly good BBC wine, and compare notes. An hour later, we were all whipped in again for the results show. There was a mock dance competition involving members of the audience. A couple of drunk BBC designers on a night out had us all in stitches with their ladette moves, and even the celebs came out to have a look.

Mark was danced out, even though his dance off dance was better than the first time, and ripped off his shirt during the farewell section. Slut. Then it was off to the BBC bar to drink more wine and ogle Austin Healy watch who talked to whom.

We sat meekly going “oo look there’s so-and-so” for most of the evening, but were then fuelled by enough drink to start talking to people. We told John and Kristina they were fab (and Kristina thanked John for making her famous!), told Austin he was going to WIN!!! Commiserated with Karen for getting two duffers in a row, and MOTD2 fan N persuaded Adrian Chiles to pose for a photo!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


mostly by Mark with interjections from Sarah

There are so many couples this time round that they are doing another round of all men/all women before going co-ed in two weeks time.

SARAH: we were in the ballot for tickets to this show, but LOST. We spent much of the show pointing at various no-mark "celebrity" guests and accusing them of nicking our tickets. Hamster-faced bloke off The Dragon's Den - you know it was you...

Tess is wearing a white pleated strapless number this week, which is not too bad. Is it just us or has she dropped a couple of cup sizes since last time?

The men are doing either the jive or the tango, which are two of the best ones to watch. For some reason, most (all?) of the men who did a salsa last time are now doing a jive – I thought they alternated between ballroom and latin? It seems a bit unfair that they didn’t.

Austin goes first, doing a jive in a sleeveless top that shows off his freakishly muscular and veiny arms. Everyone goes on about how awesome they are, but they look a bit grotesque to me, as though the arms of a 1970’s conan the barbarian Frazetta type painting have been grafted onto the head and body of a Thunderbirds puppet. Anyway, he is very good at the jiving and there is a funny bit where he strolls over to the judges and starts shimmying and making “rowwrrr!” faces at them. Austin is certainly v game. Len complains that he doesn’t like men winking at him, because THERE IS NOTHING CAMP ABOUT BALLROOM DANCING ALRIGHT???? Austin gets excellent marks and stays top of the leader board all night.

Andrew is doing a tango to 20th Century boy, which is a terrible idea. It starts off with Ola pretending to dance-kick him in the face, then there is a weird bit later on where he grabs her and head bangs in her general direction, like he's trying to peck her face off. Ola’s white and blue flowy dress is much better than that stupid catsuit she wore last time. He gets average marks.

Tom is jiving to that Black and Gold song that has been in the charts for, like, ever. Tom is dressed all in black and Camilla is wearing a gold dress that makes it look like she has been painted with glue and thrown into a sack of tinsel. The song is a bit slow really, but Tom is quite good (though not as sharp as Austin). There is one bit at the end where he throws himself onto his tummy and slides through Camilla’s legs. In the results show, we meet Tom’s fiancĂ©e and I can confirm that she is, in fact, a woman. He gets one point lower than Austin. The judges start trying to whip up a "Tom vs Austin" battle of the series situation or something like that. I think you need at least one protagonist to have a bit of charisma before that's going to happen.

John is tango-ing with Kristina, who has become one of my favourite pro-dancers ever. The tango is not bad, but everyone says John was too nice and not fierce and latin enough. I think he also loses marks for trying not to giggle when Kristina wraps her legs over his arm. He gets average to low marks again, but I think the public really like him. In the interview room, John says that passion and raw sexuality are his trademarks. Heh.

Gary is jiving too. Oh dear God. He patently fails to start at the right time and then drifts in and out of dance mode throughout the routine, counting grimly for dear life as he goes. There is one funny bit where Karen really obviously grabs him and shoves him into the right position. Craig says he was praying throughout the routine, Bruce says he didn’t see him on his knees and Bruno comments that plenty of other people have. Ha ha ha! You can’t say that at teatime! Gary is unsurprisingly in the dance off and the judges unsurprisingly don’t save him. I think Karen is more relieved than disappointed – after two clodhoppers in a row, she deserves someone good next series, pls!

Mark is tangoing, now with an ill advised attempt at a beard. He says he is shy, so Hayley makes him practise in his suit to get him in character. It is not bad, but kind of dull to watch, and Mark's scowly duck faces are a bit off-putting. They don’t really have much chemistry together and Hayley’s routines aren’t the most exciting. He gets the “tall people are spazzes” speech from the judges. He is also in the dance off and is much improved – he even makes a vague attempt at a Grr! Face – so the judges unanimously save him. Arlene tells Hayley to get Mark’s ass to an acting coach.

Don is also tangoing and is much better than he was last time. He keeps a lemon-sucking face intact throughout and the dancing is pretty good too. He says Lilia is awesome and she says, ‘no, you’re awesome!’ Having a partner who can come up with great routines makes such a difference in this show. He gets pretty good marks, but I find him a bit of a cold fish and I can’t really see him having much of a fanbase. In the Sladey house, we oldies remember his cat-like grace in Rising Damp, and think he's alright.

Next week the ladies will be doing either a quickstep (yay!) or a rumba (boo!). In the results show we have a pro-dance group rumba, which is exponentially more vom-tastic to watch than just two people doing it. There is one cool bit though where Kristina does forwards splits, then someone grabs her front foot and basically lifts it up into the air, while she keeps position. Wowsa.

The women do a group swing dance, which is very good and fun to watch (losing marks for an ill advised bit of invisible tromboning at the start). Jodie is shoved to the back a lot. Jessie seems to be quite good and obv performs it very well. I think Christine Presenternator is going to be a dark horse in this competition, as she dances pretty well, has come out of her shell in interviews and has an endearing goofy grin on her face the whole way through the dance.

The women seem to be very friendly and more of a "gang" in this series than the men who, apart from the oldies, seem to take it far too seriously. Well, that's our opinion anyway.


In a highly amusing episode, Raymond sends each restaurant a flag of a country and tells them to incorporate the food of that nation into their menu in whatever way they think best (cue lots of shots of people reading “Foreign food” type entries on Wikipedia!). To see how the evening goes, Raymond will not only send his inspectors, but also a party of diners from the country in question.

Team Sino-Cymru get Spain. They are not sure how to shoehorn Spain into their stupid Chinese-Welsh menu, so Mrs Welsh decides to ditch all that bollocks and have an entirely Spanish evening. Mr Chinese looks a bit grumpy but, in what will be a theme of the episode, folds like a cheap suit. Luckily, one of their chefs is married to a Portuguese woman, so they pick his brains for the menu (even though Spain and Portugal are DIFFERENT COUNTRIES DUH!!). The rest of the evening is spent with the aggressive sous chef bossing everyone around while chinese bloke stands around and meekly chops the odd onion. He is told off by Raymond for not running his own kitchen and they get put into the challenge.

Team Brood get Thailand. Mrs Brood sniffily says that she hates Thai food (though later it is implied that she’s never had it before!!) and can’t be bothered to mess around with her menu just because the person judging the competition told her to. They make a few vague concessions to Thailand, but the Thai diners think that spaghetti with sweet chilli sauce (mmm!!) is not very authentic, and the inspector also says the food is rubbish. Amazingly they escape the challenge, but Raymond tells them off for not being flexible.

Team Sourcing Shambles have a bit of a rubbish week. Mrs SS misses her children and cries a lot (which I’m sure is v upsetting, but seriously, why come on the show then???) and Mr SS has gut rot, which means he is too diseased to handle food. They say they’re going to quit, but then they don’t, so WHATEVER. They are allocated Japan, and add some basic Japanese dishes to their existing menu. The Japanese diners are all togged up with kimonos and say that it is not super authentic, but still tasty and with v fresh ingredients. Afterwards they set up karaoke and Mr and Mrs SS have a sing-song, so at least they cheered up a bit. Raymond puts them in the challenge for not being 100% committed, which is a travesty really as their evening went well and at least they made the effort with their menu.

Team Twee get Sweden and cleverly decide to give their existing menu a Swedish twist (ie turning a warm chicken salad to a warm reindeer salad. Ohs Noes, they ate Rudolph!!) The inspector says it is lush, but otherwise they don’t feature heavily – which is always a good sign on this show. They get restaurant of the week, and I am starting to think that they might win the whole thing.

Team LOL are given France (which is a bit harsh, as it is Raymond’s home cuisine) and live up to their name yet again. Intense one decides to make coq au vin and reads a bit from his recipe book about how it is the most common but most shittily done classic French dish. This will be important for later. They decide to write their menus in French, even though clearly none of them speak it even slightly (‘What is French for vegetables?’ ‘Vegetables!’ (pronounced with a slightly French accent)). The French diners absolutely piss themselves reading the menu and then complain that the coq au vin is made with white wine and tomatoes, instead of red wine. Doh. Raymond really rips the piss re the franglais menu (which, it turns out, is illiterate in English as well as French - ‘poached pairs’ are on offer!) and says that it is bollocks – he actually says bollocks pre watershed too. Uh oh. They still escape the challenge though, so I assume the food was all right.

Team Engerland get Mexico and are all like ‘Ee by gum, I don’t like the sound of this foreign muck’. It turns out that their oven has conked out (not the hobs, mind you, just the oven), so they decide to do a cold buffet and basically do a bit of salad and open a few bags of Doritos. Micky-from-League-of-Gentelmen also wears a ‘hilarious’ sombrero and poncho. He flogs margaritas to waiting customers (though he doesn’t really know how to make them), and while getting everyone totally lashed might be a good way to take their minds off the food, all the tequila in the world couldn’t make you think that a carrot and green bean wrap is a delicious Mexican snack. The Mexican diners think it is rubbish and refuse to pay, while Mickey grumbles in the kitchen that they are all ingrates. What a surprise, they are in the challenge.

For the challenge they have to prepare a three course meal and pitch it to first class air passengers. The chefs have to cook it in the scary enormo factory place then the front of house staff have to dish it up in the tiny airline kitchen and serve it in the proper 1st class type manner. Team Sino-Cymru make a Chinese menu but use frozen prawns, serve soggy noodles and horrid rice and also the service is not very good as Mrs Welsh wanders round with a face like a slapped arse throughout. Team Engerland make a Lancashire hot pot, but with a disgusting fake rosti of grilled raw potato instead of the trad slices of potato. Team LOL are helping them and there is a hilarious scene of the mild mannered one flapping around in the airplane galley for about five minutes looking for towel or something. Team Sourcing Shambles cook a yum looking lamb dish but spend so long buying the lamb that they barely have enough time to prepare it. Everyone forgets to serve Inspector Sarah. The airline like the lamb dish so much that they decide to add it to their menu, so Sourcing Shambles win.

Team Sino-Cymru and Team Engerland both get stick re the horribleness of their food, but clearly Team Engerland must get the chop after their dreadful Mexican debacle. Mickey jokes that he can’t believe he went out over a Chinese man who couldn’t cook rice – yes mate, that’s how shit you really were.

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