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BBC Strictly Come Dancing – Savage Cuts at the BBC. Rockin’ Robbie goes


Rockin' Robbie


Strictly Come Dancing – Savage Cuts at the BBC


Rockin’ Robbie takes his leave. Like most of the celebs on the show Robbie Savage has improved enormously over the weeks. His dancing has got better too. Obviously subdued and genuinely upset about the suicide this week of his friend and fellow player Gary Speed, the hairy coiffured one went out with a good grace and engaging diffidence I would not have thought possible a few weeks ago. We can never be certain of the sincerity of feelings and emotion on the show because all, excepting “I’m so gorgeous” Nancy Oil, now realise that making the public vote for you is part of the game. However, Robbie, starting from nowhere as a dancer has been willing to have a go and suck up some pretty patronising criticism especially from Cruella de Craig with good grace and a rueful smile. When he says he hopes he has altered the public perception of him, we can I think confirm this is true and that he has earned it. The boy done well: good fun, good humour and some great OTT moments. But the decision was right: as he admitted himself, saying he hoped Jason would stay instead of him.

This year Strictly has morphed into genuine Prime Time TV – ticking most of the BBC’s Saturday Night boxes with something for everyone: pace and style; a genuine competitive element; artistry and skill often thrilling and always entertaining; and a kind of guilt-free reality-lite where we see celebrities respond to a real challenge that doesn’t involve sticking something disgusting in your mouth. Shame on the naughty readers among you – I wasn’t even thinking of going there.

However hard it is to see the truth behind the glitter, there does seem to be a genuine sense of camaraderie amongst all the remaining celebs and most of those that have left. It has been fascinating to watch not just their rather impressive improvement as dancers but also what I have called the ‘Strictly Effect’ of personal development. It must take a fair bit of gumption to risk making a complete fool of yourself in front of several million people each week. Rarely are even actors required to deliver the goods live in front of such an audience.

Almost all the dances are revealing of the person doing them: especially amateurs, as the celebs are. It has been absorbing to watch say Chelsee discover that she has a real talent she didn’t know about. In the last two weeks it has been exhilarating watching Holly ‘open up’ a hitherto carefully controlled and guarded, professional demeanour in order to be a better dancer.

It is pleasing, to me anyway, that Strictly has beaten X Factor head to head: both are harmless enough family viewing but the kind of personal qualities of determination, commitment, taking a chance, and striving for excellence and actual talent displayed on Strictly strike me as an example one can comfortably watch with the kids. So this week’s movies theme didn’t only evoke the glamorous and glitzy side of Hollywood but also the behind-the-scenes professionalism and perfectionism of Astaire and Kelly; and Ginger Rogers – “all the same stuff as Fred but going backwards in high heels.”

Alex’s side bet with the costume department is now a 2-2 draw. In an elegant dance to the song with one of the best guitar riffs in rock, Pretty Woman, she and James American Smoothed their way to 34 points despite yet again hooking her presumably unfamiliar high heels in what a po-face Angela Rippon used to describe in the old Come Dancing days as “40 yards of tulle”. “Yards!” Yes it was that long ago.

Robbie and Ola’s Reservoir Dogs Quickstep was at the edge of his ability: pretty good but not as good. I almost couldn’t recognise Ola – with clothes on. Harry’s Bumba, sorry Rumba, in what looked like spray-on pants, got Craig and Bruno pretty hot and again showed that however much you learn in dancing, natural shape and line are hard to beat. I thought Jason and Kristina’s Singin’ in The Rain American Smooth was impeccably choreographed and Jason got all the steps right but for me he doesn’t ‘live’ a dance – he lacks the spontaneity of instinct and fun. Even if it originally took rigorous professionalism to create – you can’t do anything from Singin’ in The Rain without a sense of fun. I think they should issue freed DVD’s of Singin’ on the National Health.

If Kristina is perhaps the best female choreographer, Artem definitely takes it for the guys. His stuff is innovative and often risky but always impressive and he and a finally no-holds-barred Holly did a Paso Doble of real passion and power. The Paso and the Rumba are the two dances where the dividing line between thrilling and ridiculous is very fine: witness John Sargeant’s immortal sack-of-Kristina-potatoes Paso that even made the 9 o’clock news.

The judges, even Grouchy Goodman, are rightly knocked out by Chelsee’s emergence as a dancer with an instinctive musicality allied to a natural poise which makes each week’s dance better than the last. With the vanity free Pasha making a wonderfully up-for-it ridiculous Shrek, they produced a jive of such verve and joie de vivre that for once in a while I did envy them their youth. I grew up with the Jive and that’s how you do it. Not quite how I did it – but you know what I mean. And I probably looked a bit of a Shrek as well.

The only disappointment of the week was that we didn’t get to see Flavia and Russell’s planned tango to The Pink Panther: with Flavia of course as Inspector Clouseau seeking out the pinkly un-pantherish Russ. Come on Beeb – one for Christmas please.

Two dances and two eliminations in next week’s semi-final. My money’s on Harry, Chelsee and Holly to stay. Unless someone gets the Curse of the Samba.


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