Autumn's here, and the half-decent tv scheduling has finally kicked off with a new series of Merlin and the TVD team's favourite Saturday night indulgence, Strictly Come Dancing. Woohoo!
Except that if you tuned in on Saturday, you'd have missed half of it already. Because the BBC, in its infinite wisdom, can't help but fuck about with a perfectly respectable format. So now we have...
FRIDAY NIGHT IS BALLROOM NIGHT!!
Yes, that's right. It now starts at 8.30 on a Friday night, when the teenies are tired and fractious after school and couldn't stay awake if you hotwired them to the National Grid. Each celeb now has to learn two dances every week. Friday's dance is a Ballroom number, and the extended Saturday show will be for the Latin dance, several slightly tedious interludes with Brucie's bad jokes and a show dance from the usual suspects. We get to vote on both nights, and then there's a dance-off on Saturday.
Camilla appears to have decided that sharing a studio with Brendan is not a good thing - well, sharing a universe with Brendan is not exactly a great thing, but poor Camilla has suffered more than most. Maybe she knew that after winning last year's competition, she would have to spend at least five years with a sucession of balding two-left-footed pervs before she got a crack at a decent partner.
We've got two new lady dancers, but more of them later.
ARLENE ON THE ROAD: DARCEY BUSSELL AND ALESHA IN THE HOUSE
The only person who didn't know about Alesha's controversial appointment was my sister-in-law, who spends much of the year in a strict Muslim country with no telly and nothing but a pile of eighteenth century literature for company. Arlene seems to have been sent off around the country searching for dancing talent with Nigel Lythgoe (aka The Man Who Gave Us Myleene Klass). In her place is Former Winner and Goddess no. 3 in Mr P's Pantheon of Goddessness, Alesha Dixon.
Apparently Darcey Bussell (Goddess no. 1 in my dad's Pantheon fwiw) will be joining the judges once they've got rid of all the duffers, so that she doesn't have to ruin her classically trained eyes with clodhoppery.
Alesha did...OK. I mean, I don't think I was the only person in the world who got irritated by Arlene's shoutiness and inept punning. But it would be nice if Alesha didn't bang on about how she knows what the poor slebs are going through, because she felt the same WHEN SHE WON THE SERIES, and got on with some actual judging. Right now it looks like she's been brought in giggle with Bruno.
BOOBWATCH: Motherhood really suits our Tess. She's looking gorgeous in a 1970s Farah kind of way. This week, she's rocking the off-the-shoulder look in pink and purple.
RAV WILDING AND NEW GIRL Aliona Vilani
Oooh...look at that torso! That's in the Mark Foster league, that is. He's the ex-copper chap off Crimewatch, I believe. Seems nice, if a bit bland. New Girl seems to have played safe and reduced his part to standing still while she drapes herself all over him in an interesting fashion. Len don't like that, and says so. We didn't like her nicking her nan's tablecloth for the rumba either.
ANNOYING GARRY + ERIN (FACE OF) BOAG
Well, his name is really Ricky Groves, but he will always be Annoying Garry to us. He was alright for the waltz and actually had a good pair of feet, but Craig called him a spare part. He tried harder for Saturday's chacha, but "trying harder" seemed to involved making lots of angry goldfish expressions. But it kept them in for another week.
CHRIS HOLLINS AND OLA JORDAN
It's another happy chappy from Breakfast TV. The BBC Breakfast males all seem to be middle-sized men blessed with average good looks and an abundance of perkiness. Chris gets bullied by sports stars for a living, and looks and sounds a lot like my mate Nige. This makes him equally endearing and annoying. He and Ola tango to Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top (we did the pointy finger wave on the sofa). It was good, but you really didn't feel that he was going to drag her off to a seedy hotel for a damn good seeing-to after the dance was over. Len criticises his hands: "Man Hands, not GURL Hands!"
JADE JOHNSON AND LOVELY IAN WAITE
After a bit of "who?" we remembered her from the Olympics. She's definitely an athlete with those shoulders, and seems like a nice girl (Chivalrous Len: "Look at them thighs! You could crack walnuts with them!") She says she's only here for the bling, but turns in a good performance for both dances.
MARTINA HINGIS AND MATTHEW CUTLER
Mr P doesn't think she has aged well, but I think he's just saying that to keep me sweet. She can't stop with the goofy grin. Enough of the smiling, Martina! She was quite graceful, but screwed up a few steps and even Mr P stopped drooling long enough to admit that it was a bit on the boring side. Craig gets his first mega-hacky look of the series from Len as he awards her a 4 for the first dance. She did well enough in the dance-off for Craig to vote for her, but it was all in vain. Mr P: gutted. Me: gloaty. Never mind dear, I wonder if Kim Deal could ever be persuaded to do Strictly?
LYNDA BELLINGHAM AND DARREN BENNETT
This year's oldie-but-goodie is the Oxo Mum. She dances the tango to Under Pressure, and judging by the ever-changing looks on her face, it's all a bit too much for her already. Her slightly off-time chacha is not helped by a dress that makes her look like a salmon. I don't think she'll make it to the Bussell rounds, somehow.
ALI BASTIAN AND BRIAN SNAKEHIPS FORTUNA
Never heard of this one, but she's from that bastion of Great TV acting, Hollyoaks. Though she's probably a bit good for Hollyoaks now, and has moved on to The Bill. Really rather good. She's got the right combination of sweet scattiness to win over the Great British Public, and she can dance a bit too.
JOE CALZAGHE AND KRISTINA AGUILEROVSKA
I noticed in my mum's builder's copy of The Sun that tabloid journos are all over these two. Judging by the state of his dancing, I'd be inclined to ask a few questions about what they've been doing for the past few weeks.
Even though there were loads of dancers this week, there are another eight to get through next week, including Tanya Turner of Footba££er$ Wive$, and the lovely Phil Tufnell. Mark hates Tuffers, but his Test Match Special turns make me laugh, and he was a genius spin bowler (shame about the rest of his game, but you can't win 'em all, especially if you play for England).