Week four kicked off this evening with cocktail sausages, naked torsos and tears. We had walks down memory lane, disappointing Quicksteps and a close battle for the spot at the top of the leaderboard.
Anita is up first with a saucy Samba. Her Shakira-inspired number is fun to watch. But it’s a mixed bag from the judges. “The Samba is a really difficult dance but I think you coped really well,” says Len. “Very well done!”
“It was a bit on and off,” says Bruno. “A little stiff in places,” adds Craig while Darcey says: “Your determination, your focus… it’s very impressive.”
She gets 6, 7, 7, 7 from the judges. “27 is solid,” says a smiling Anita.
Daniel O’Donnell is piloting flight number “SEVEN!” and hoping for a score to match. He’s light on his feet, elegant and actually smiling this week. The ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look is long gone.
“It was premium economy,” says a catty Bruno, saying his dance was lacking in bells and whistles. “It does need swing and it does need sway… so therefore it was lacking in an enormous amount of style,” says Craig, adding: “You need to take more risks.”
Darcey calls the lifts “seamless” while Len says: “You were obviously on Easy Jet… it is always a little bit careful.”
He gets 5 from Craig and 6s from Darcey, Len and Bruno. It’s higher than last week. They are ascending! (Please keep your seats in the upright position.)
Next up it’s Kirsty and Brendan dancing a Paso. It’s a strong and punchy performance, with spins and flicks and lifts. But the judges aren’t entirely on board.
“It had as much shape as a broomstick,” says Craig, adding: “I can see you were really really trying and I appreciate that, darling.”
Darcey praises her confidence and “physical physicality” while Len likens her dance to a Spanish classic. “It was a bit like a paella,” he says, “tasty in places but there are always a few funny fits floating around.”
She gets a 4 from Craig, 6 from Darcey, 6 from Len and 5 from Bruno. Slightly less than last week.
Georgia is dancing a Quickstep to an S-Club classic in a fabulously frothy skirt. It’s another flirty, bouncy number and the judges love it.
“You are a dream to watch… sweet, crisp, light,” says Darcey, praising her top line. “From drab to fab,” says Len. “It was full of life, it was vibrant. I loved it.”
Even Craig is a fan. “You were flying around with great speed which was great to see… I liked it very, very much,” he says.
They get 7, 7, 8 and a 9 from Len (so it’s fair to say he’s forgiven them for last week…)
Jeremy Vine’s Jiving to Splish Splash. There’s a little air guitar, some rolling around on the floor and probably some Jive content in there too. The audience are certainly impressed, giving him a standing ovation and the judges aren’t mean either.
“You are consistently not the best dancer, but you are consistent the most fun to watch,” says Len. “I actually find you quite inspiring,” says Darcey. “You make a dance your own. It might not be the dance we are wanting… but you never fail to entertain.”
Craig, however, was less complimentary: “It was like watching a stalk that had been struck by lightening.”
He gets 20, a 3 from Craig, a 6 from Darcey, 6 from Len and 5 from Bruno.
Kellie Bright’s dancing a Foxtrot inspired by her grandparents’ real-life meet cute. It’s a sweet touch and her performance is just as sweet. The EastEnder is careful, measured and accomplished.
“Lovely finger placement, darling. Confident, clean, smooth. Loved it,” says Craig.
Darcey praised her cool, calm confidence, while Len called it “lovely… from Albert Square to memory lane.”
She gets 8s across the board, making her top of the leaderboard. For now…
Jamelia is dancing a Charleston this week. Her performance is crisp, clever and confident. It’s definitely one of her best performances so far and even Craig is complimentary. “I think you’ve actually come into your own darling. This is your dance,” he says.
“Your best dance with knobs on,” says Len.
“You were right on it. Your confidence has grown immensely… you were like the ultimate flapper of the jazz age,” concludes Bruno.
They get 8s across the board, too. She joins Kellie at the top of the leaderboard and promptly bursts into tears.
Jay McGuiness is up next, dancing a Quickstep to The Who’s New Generation. We were expecting brilliant things after last week’ Jive, but there is no standing ovation this week and the judges aren’t full of praise either.
“It was such a shame you made a mistake,” says Darcey. “It’s a very fast dance… unfortunately your feet were doing more than your brain could handle,” adds Len.
“The talent is there. It’s enormous, it’s huge… Come back and regroup,” concludes Bruno.
It’s a 5 from Craig, 7 from Darcey, 6 from Len and 7 from Bruno for a total of 25. That’s a colossal drop of 12 from last week. And no 10s. Not even close.
Next we’ve got Carol Kirkwood. TV’s smiliest presenter is convincingly stormy for her Paso, but Bruno wants more passion and aggression. He says she looked like she had toothache.
“You got into character and you went for it. Well done,” says Len.
“I think this is the first time we’ve seen your body engage in any dance, which is a great thing… there was tension in your body which is a great start,” he says. “Well done and an improvement.”
The scores? They get 5, 6, 6, 5. It’s 5 up on last week and Carol is back in her comfort zone, smiling serenely again.
Up next is Ainsley Harriott. The TV chef has clearly put a lot of work into his frame this week. He’s elegant, poised and graceful. He’s clearly still enjoying being centre stage, but it’s a more careful performance than we’ve seen from him so far.
Bruno is impressed by his efforts, as is Craig, who smiles and says he “really enjoyed it.” Darcey is in agreement. “You expressed a real charm,” she says.
“No mistakes. Oi! Footwork was pretty good,” concludes Len, saying: “Well done.”
It’s 6, 7, 7, 6. 26, up 6 from last week. “That’s amazing!” says Natalie, while Ainsley looks chuffed.
Helen George is dancing a medical-themed Salsa. She’s not exactly channeling Nurse Trixie Frankie though; the Nonnatus nuns would not be okay with this saucy set up.
Helen’s got the characterisation down. There are lots of sexy smiles and winking at the camera. And two successful lifts.
“You are an incredible, incredible dancer,” says Craig calling it phenomenal. “That was risky, well done!” adds Darcey, praising her loose hips.
“By George Helen. That was great,” agrees Len.
“Can I have an appointment by the way? Do you do house calls?” enquires Bruno calling it hot and sexy.
They get 8s across the board, making them joint top with Kellie and Jamelia. It’s getting crowded up there…
Peter’s dancing the Tango. It’s dramatic, theatrical and incredibly focused. The audience think it’s worthy of a standing ovation. And the judges are fans too.
Darcey compliments Janette’s choreography and Peter’s conviction. “It was great… you’re back,” says Len.
“You really played your trump card,” adds Bruno. “You’re right on it and you know exactly what you’re doing… You’re an ace!”
Craig gives them an 8… and the rest of the panel follow suit. Almost a third of our celebs are vying for the top spot this week now.
Katie Derham is up last, dancing the Viennese Waltz. Anton devised a tricky dance that certainly pushed his celeb partner and the judges were suitably impressed.
“I didn’t think you could pull that off… there was so much going on,” says Len. “So much better than last week, I salute you both.”
“Absolutely incredible… I don’t know how you learnt that in a week,” adds an open-mouthed Craig.
“You pushed her hard this week… absolutely beautiful,” concludes Darcey.
With three 8s and a 9, Katie officially tops the leaderboard. Anton is besides himself. “So that’s what it feels like then. I’ve wondered for so long…” he says.
And that concludes week four. Katie and Anton are in the top spot, with Helen, Kellie, Peter and Jamelia coming in a close joint second. At the other end of the leaderboard we’ve got Jeremy Vine, while Kirsty and Carol are also in the danger zone.
Of course that’s not where it all ends this weekend. These scores are added to the public vote and another celebrity will find themselves hanging up their dancing shoes tomorrow night…
Strictly Come Dancing continues tomorrow at 7:15pm on BBC1