Strictly Come Dancing 2011: The Swingathon Live Blog!

by Gerard McGarry

Strictly Come Dancing logoIt’s the Strictly Swingathon! Huh? What’s a Swingathon? I suspect we’re about to find out! Prepare to be as exhausted as Brucie’s supply of jokes by the end of the night.

Anita Dobson and Brendan Cole: So Brendan Cole gallantly steps into the shoes of another injured dancer. Sadly, he’s paired with Anita Dobson this week, and I find myself getting a little impatient with her. She’s not annoying me as much as some of you guys, but my gripe is that she’s not good enough to compete in the final and so I feel like I’m wasting time watching her routines. Not a bad routine, per se, but not particularly exciting.

Alesha Dixon damned the performance calling it “cute and pleasant”, which ultimately means “forgettable”. Bruno called it bright and lively and like Len, he praised the amount of content in the dance. Craig’s technical analysis was as rivetting as ever, but essentially he noted that it had no “true dynamic”.

Scores: Craig: 7, Len: 8, Alesha: 7, Bruno:8 Totals: 30

Holly Valance and Artem: Holly’s focus this week seems to be on “letting go”, although it didn’t warrant that terrible high school skit, did it? Holly and Artem are dancing the foxtrot tonight. Holly looks quite sultry at the start of the routine, but when the pair are in hold, the energy drains away. However, the excitement returns toward the end when Holly starts with the high kicks.

Bruno calls Holly a sexy teaser and calls the routine sexy and hot. Craig was worried about the track behind the dance, but said he “thought it was fantastic”, while Len Goodman thought the dance didn’t match with the music, but he loved the little bit of pure foxtrot that there was.

Scores: Craig: 8, Len: 8, Alesha: 9, Bruno:9 Totals: 34

Alex Jones and James: These two get their much awaited Charleston. Mostly a comedy routine this one, Alex dancing with mouth wide open throughout. I loved the lift where James flipped her over his back and she came out between his legs. A lot of fun, but very hard to work out whether it’s technically any good, despite being entertaining. I guess we’ll have to rely on Craig Revell Horwood and the three standing ovations to work that bit out.

Bruno loves the goofiness and the vaudeville vibe, but criticises the timing in places. A tight-lipped Craig said Alex had taken a step backward tonight, complaining about the posture and Alex’s lack of understanding of the dance. Len mitigates that by saying it was fun and entertaining, but lacking in the detail. Alesha called the routine sweet, quirky and funny and praises Alex and James’ partnership.

Scores: Craig: 6, Len: 7, Alesha: 8, Bruno:8 Totals: 29

Robbie Savage and Ola: Brilliant bit of VT showing how much of a mother’s boy Robbie Savage really is. Dancing a samba tonight, well they both look the part, although all eyes were on Ola’s barely-there costume. Oh, until Robbie whips off his trousers to reveal a pair of blue football shorts underneath! Great routine, high on fun and didn’t they do well?

Craig lays into the duo for a number of technical issues, but saves some condescention for “the gratuitous reveal” at the end, while Len Goodman calls it a “shamba”. He’s not amused about the stripping bit either and the gyrating. Alesha gives the populaist opinion that it was a fun routine, and Bruno calls him a kangaroo with lead feet.

Scores: Craig: 5, Len: 7, Alesha: 7, Bruno:6 Totals: 25

Chelsee Healey and Pasha: It’s an Argentine Tango for Pasha and Chelsee tonight. The routine starts off with some solo vamping around the floor. There’s some impressively complicated footwork involved toward the end that really had me stunned. I’m sure it wasn’t completely perfect, but you have to appreciate the amount of work that went into that routine.

Len doesn’t understand why Chelsee – an actress – can’t act like she’s interested in Pasha. He still calls it the best dance he’s seen tonight. Alesha thought it was very strong, but told her to lose her inhibitions. Bruno makes Chelsee blush and tells her that he wants her to be badder. Craig said there was a “high level of difficulty” in the routine that she coped with well.

Scores: Craig: 8, Len: 9, Alesha: 9, Bruno:9 Totals: 35

Jason Donovan and Kristina: I cringed all the way through Jason’s introductory skit, but he’s got a Charleston tonight, and as an actor, he should be able to pull this routine off effortlessly. And of course, he does. It’s all teeth, wacky facial expressions and plenty of dance content which should please the judges. An excellent lift just at the end should make him one of the highest scoring contestants tonight.

Bruno purrs that it was “high energy and exuberant slapstick”, while Craig was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t completely perfect, although it came close. Len says “it was truly fabulous” and Alesha adds that Jason’s a hard worker and it really paid off.

Scores: Craig: 9, Len: 9, Alesha: 9, Bruno:9 Totals: 36

Harry Judd and Aliona: Finishing the show off with a quickstep tonight Harry’s carrying off the classic tails look. The routine started out well enough, but I have to say, I lost interest about midway through. Just not the most exciting or entertaining routine of the night.

Craig starts off by criticising Harry’s lazy left foot, but says that’s all he could find wrong with it. Len is impressed enough to award a 9 tonight, while Alesha called the routine outstanding. Bruno raves about Harry’s sophistication and sway. Superb, he says.

Scores: Craig: 9, Len: 10, Alesha: 10, Bruno: 10 Totals: 39

The Swingathon!

Did you think it was all over? Uh-uh! The swingathon is where all the dancers hit the floor and dance, at speed. They’re all in competition with each other, so they have to keep performing and they’ll remain on the floor. The judges will eliminate them one by one. The first to leave gets the least points while the last couple standing will be awarded 7 extra points.

Robbie and Ola are the first to leave, followed by Anita and an irate Brendan Cole. Artem and Holly are kicked off next, which is good, because he was essentially piggy backing her around the floor. Jason Donovan and Kristina and eliminated next, followed by Alex Jones and James Jordan. Chelsee Healey and Pasha are finally eliminated, making Harry Judd and Aliona the winners of the Swingathon. That gives them an amazing high score of 46 for the night.

Craig Revell Horwood praised their athleticism while Brucie pointed out that they were the last routine of the night, so to do such an energetic routine immediately afterward was exceptional.

Could it be that Harry Judd has that Glitterball trophy in the bag already? Is there anybody beyond Jason Donovan and Chelsee Healey to challenge him?

Gerard McGarry is a jet-setting, world-renowned Reality TV critic. In real life, Gerard works with web and social media strategy. His personal blog is at or follow him on Twitter @gerrybot