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The elephant in the pizzeria: Seven things from Strictly this week

PUBLISHED: 09:06 22 October 2018

Katya Jones, Seann Walsh - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Katya Jones, Seann Walsh - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

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As a nation stopped squabbling long enough to watch a televised celebrity dance competition, Strictly Come Dancing returned to BBC One a mere 168 tortuous hours after news broke of Seann Walsh and Katya Jones kissing each others faces.

Tess Daly, Katie Piper, Gorka Marquez - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyTess Daly, Katie Piper, Gorka Marquez - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

In just seven days the tempest of tabloid attention and Twitter analysis has covered the gamut of Seann and Katya’s synchronised apologies, hysterics calling for their expulsion from the Strictly ballroom, now-ex-girlfriend Rebecca Humphries’ tweeting takedown of Walsh, a gentle broiling from Zoe Ball and literally millions of beaks poked into the private lives of these poor souls.

To everyone’s surprise, the Saturday night focussed more on the dancing than anything else. I know, the cheek of them!

Besides Graeme Swann accidentally being accused of being impotent and questions over the cost of licencing a recent Taylor Swift song to the tax-paying public, here’s what you missed:

Piper panned

Katie Piper, Gorka Marquez, Karen Clifton, Charles Venn - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyKatie Piper, Gorka Marquez, Karen Clifton, Charles Venn - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

The third celebrity biting the dust is TV presenter and model Katie Piper. Long overdue the boot, Piper had never grasped the basics and was a difficult presence on the dancefloor and camera.

This week’s VT of her showing partner Gorka around the specialist burns hospital she works as an ambassador for was the most comfortable she has appeared on screen and really highlighted the chasm between her ability to dance and to do everything else.

Venn again

Piper was knocked out by sex-on-legs Charles Venn, who found himself in the bottom two again. Although he was closer to the foot of the table than last week, it would appear that his pro-dance partner Karen Clifton’s tactic of ‘sex sells’ is beginning to backfire.

Faye Tozer, Giovanni Pernice - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyFaye Tozer, Giovanni Pernice - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Venn’s laundrette-themed Salsa saw him rip off a jacket and shirt before wielding Clifton in dramatic lifts that only the two of them can manage thanks to their core strength and Venn’s height.

The routine earned them their fourth consecutive score of 25, and a lack of improvement will soon leave them in the bottom two without a less-talented celebrity to pick off.

These are not the dancers you are looking for

Back to Seann and Katya - the only mention of the whole drunken kiss affair was RoboTess introducing them as having a ‘hell of a week’. Other understatements are available in the gift shop.

Kevin Clifton, Stacey Dooley - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyKevin Clifton, Stacey Dooley - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Otherwise, the judges, hosts and audience all treated them as an scandal-free pair and the choreography the couple pulled off was very impressive, with Walsh becoming a staircase at one point.

This viewers opinion: In terms of the competition, the only blow Kiss-gate have for the pair will be time lost making public statements and voters put off by the pairs behaviour. All the bluster in the gossip columns and hollering from the non-voting masses counts for nought when the results come out on Sunday night, and if they can keep improving, they will last longer than their naysayers.

The ghost at the feast

A fun game to play as with the family: Look for pro dancer Neil Jones! His shock of ginger hair and generally morose expression are now visible at the back of every shot of the couples talking to Claudia Winkleman.

Graziano Di Prima, Vick Hope - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyGraziano Di Prima, Vick Hope - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Has he been given a constant presence to create the impression that his wife did not kiss another man? Are we only now seeing him because the country has invaded his private life? We may never know.

Faye’s first mis-Steps

Back to the dancing, and Faye Tozer slipped down the scores for the first time in the show, with Stacey Dooley coming in to top the leaderboard for the first time.

Her foxtrot with Kevin Clifton was so good it prompted the judges to score them 33 points and Clifton to bury his face in a cake with his face on it. It is that face-on-cake-on-face action that X Factor cannot compete with.

Amy Dowden, Danny John-Jules - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyAmy Dowden, Danny John-Jules - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Further down, there was nine couples within four points of each other in the table, which means it’s anyone’s game/all to play for/up for grabs/a fourth cliche.

Judge’s face faces judgement

Tess Daly’s jokes are usually groaners, but when her and Claudia get together there’s an outside chance of a funny joke. This week, they both missed.

Before Graeme Swann and Oti Mabuse’s Jive, the Daly-tron said the setting of their dance was “somewhere craggy and lifeless that’s devoid of atmosphere.”

Oti Mabuse, Graeme Swann - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyOti Mabuse, Graeme Swann - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

“Why are they dancing on Craig’s face?” was Winkleman’s zinger.

The audience were audibly surprised, and whatever Craig’s reaction was did not make it onto live TV, which seems like it was poorly received. Is there a vacancy for a script writer on the show yet?

SWANN’S IN SPACE

One last mention of the most audacious costumes we were witness to this weekend: Graeme Swann began in a space suit on the surface of the moon (No moonwalk? Shame on you Graeme) before tearing everything away to reveal a lurid pink shirt-belt-trouser-sock-shoe combination.

Strictly Celebrities and Pro Dancers - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy LevyStrictly Celebrities and Pro Dancers - (C) BBC - Photographer: Guy Levy

Kate Silverton appeared a vision in Macaw blue, red and yellow as well.

Honourable mention goes to Claudia, who’s asymmetrical dress made her look even more carefully dishevelled than usual. Top job.

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