'Strictly' top 8: Dance by dance
Here's what happened, dance by dance:
Ray and Camilla
Performed the samba to "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" by the Scissor Sisters. The performance received mixed reviews from the panel; while Len reacted with a "hip hip hooray" to Ray's swinging hips, Bruno said that the dance "lacked bounce." Craig was "disappointed," characterising the performance as "stiff" and "a bit reserved." Arlene summed up her feelings: "Camilla, you were hot; Ray, you were not."
Scores: Craig - 6; Arlene - 6; Len - 7; Bruno - 7: 26
Claire and Brendan
Performed the American smooth to "Blue Moon" by Frank Sinatra. All the judges noted the world of difference between tonight's performance and more raunchy routines the pair have rolled out in previous episodes. Len noted that the American smooth is designed to transport people back to Hollywood, adding that "if that was in Hollywood, I would nominate you for an Oscar." Bruno said: "A touch of class goes a long way and you proved that tonight; that was simply elegant." Craig called the performance "elegant and understated," telling Brendan "it was one classy routine and you've really turned it around." Arlene said that "the gruesome twosome have become the smoothsome twosome."
Scores: Craig - 8; Arlene - 7; Len - 9; Bruno - 8: 32
Emma and Darren
Performed the samba to "Maria" by Ricky Martin. Emma's mid-week worries that the routine was too difficult melted away on the dance floor, taking the pair to a score of 36. Bruno called the dance "sizzling" and "scorching", while Craig said it was "absolutely wicked." Arlene said that Emma's time in the Spice Girls involved her fooling a lot of people a lot of the time, adding that "what we saw tonight was this girl really dance." Len said that the couple "coped magnificently" with "the hardest Latin dance."
Scores: four 9s: 36
Mark and Karen
Performed the American smooth to "Orange Coloured Sky" by Natalie Cole. All the judges bar Len complemented the pair on tonight's performance. Arlene called the performance "elegant, smooth and sophisticated." Bruno said that Mark was "the total smooth operator," adding: "You deliver every single time." Len, however, launched into a critique, shouting "oh, give over" to the crowd when interrupted by boos. "It was peppered with zig zags, it wasn't smooth, it wasn't my cup of tea," he said. Craig partially agreed with Len, particularly with respect to "the zig zags," but added that "timing and presentation, as always, was fantastic."
Scores: Craig - 8; Arlene - 9; Len - 7; Bruno - 9: 33
Louisa and Vincent
Performed the samba to "Rhythm of the Night" by Debarge. Craig, who last week reduced Louisa to tears with his comments, said that tonight's performance was "a vast improvement from last week," adding that "there was way more energy, it was really terrific, I really loved it." Arlene said she felt like she was "at carnival," adding: "You now have to learn to use your eyes... you've really got something, Louisa." Bruno said that Louisa was "really a bundle of fun." Len, however, again was less impressed - not with Louisa, however. "Vincent, I think you've put far too many steps into poor little Louisa's routine. She can't keep up with it - she was flying around like a balloon that had had the air let out."
Scores: four 8s: 32
Matt and Lilia
Performed the American smooth to "You Make Me Feel So Young" by Frank Sinatra. Despite getting stuck in the stairs en route to the dance floor, Matt put in a performance that achieved universal praise from the judges. Bruno said: "Rejoice! You transformed yourself. It was almost perfect; elegant." Craig called the performance "an absolute transformation," noting that Matt finally showed "some emotional connection." Arlene said that Matt had gone "from boring to brilliant in 6 weeks." Even Len was pleased, saying: "You cast off the chains of inhibition, came to the floor and danced the best I've ever seen you."
Scores: Craig - 8; Arlene - 8; Len - 9; Bruno - 9: 34
Peter and Erin
Performed the samba to "Use It Up and Wear It Out" by Odyssey. Expectations were low for this dance; on It Takes Two through the week it was clear that Peter was struggling with the speed and steps of the dance. As such, the couple earned the sole 3 of the night. "Oh Peter," said Arlene, "you and the samba rhythms haven't quite attached together yet. When I heard the whistles in the song I thought someone would come out with a red card." Len shocked the audience by being supportive after his earlier grumpiness: "I didn't think it was that bad, you gave it a go. The trouble was I think you used it up and wore it out last week. It was much better than I thought it was going to be." Bruno compared the performance to "a brazil nut at the end of a stag party, only the shattered smithereens are left on the floor. It wasn't your dance." Craig went one step further, calling the dance "absolutely heinous." To Peter, he added: "The top and bottom of your entire body moved completely independently of each other. They looked completely divorced. Very entertaining, however, very funny."
Scores: Craig - 3; Arlene - 4; Len - 6; Bruno - 6: 19
The total even resulted in an "awww, shame" from Brucie.
Carol and Matthew
Performed the American smooth to "It's Oh So Quiet" by Bjork. In contrast to the previous performance, expectations were extremely high after Len called Carol the "dark horse" of the competition last week. Tonight, Carol was called a "rough diamond" by Arlene, who said that Matthew needed to work on honing Carol's performances. Craig accused the couple of slipping in an illegal lift, which the other judges disagreed with. He also said to Carol - and by this point the audience was booing - "When your arms were above your head you looked like a little girl doing ballet." Len said that it wasn't the couple's best dance "...but it had a nice fluid movement about it, which I enjoyed." Carol ended up leaving the dance floor with a flabbergasted look on her face, while Matthew was amazed at the amount of criticism and lack of praise for the good elements of the dance.
Scores: Craig - 6; Arlene - 7; Len - 7; Bruno - 7: 27