Saturday, 29 January 2011

Gambling On Ice ... with viewers affections.

I don't know about you, but Dancing on Ice was the easy-going wind down, post Christmas post Strictly Come Dancing, light entertainment show you could chill out to (sorry, bad pun!) enjoy the great skating, lightly snigger to (in a good and suportive way) at the bad, in the company of the ever young and fun Phil, pretty Holly and the legendary and respected Torvill & Dean and Robin Cousins.

So why are they turning it into Big Brother? Far from being Sunday night cosy family TV, the insider "quote" suggested they want the contestants bitching and backstabbing, culminating in them voting off a couple in the bottom two, giving the negative reasons why they're sending them home. It's all "Will they send home who they see as competition; will they save their best mate." Going by the papers (I know, I know, can't believe all you read) the contestants themselves aren't best pleased to be placed in such a situation.

I can understand that TV programmes like to refresh occasionally - but what's wrong with the contestants saving who they think deserves to be saved for positive reasons? Like I said, it's on in the family tea time slot for a reason, there are many children watching - is this the example we want set?

You never hear the Strictly contestants, Bruce, Tess or Claudia being anything other than supportive to each other - I'm puzzled at to what Dancing on Ice thinks the negative behaviour of the contestants will achieve. If they're looking for a bigger share of ratings, they might find it backfiring - if the contestants aren't seen to care about each other, why should we care about them?

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Snippets: Strictly Come Dancing, X-Factor, Let's Dance for Comic Relief, Got To Dance

Bruce Forsyth was honoured at the NTA's... and then proceeded to frighten the life out of Tess, who could be seen to utter something along the lines of: Don't do that to me, Brucie!

He'd accepted the Special Recognition Award and said: This would be a good night to announce my retirement (the collective gasps were heard throughout the nation) ... but I'm not bloody going to!

X-Factor picked up the Talent Show Award, which Simon Cowell promptly dedicated to a show producer, Shue Green, who'd beaten cancer this year.

Steve Jones will be joined by Alex Jones for this year's Let's Dance for Comic Relief, with Claudia being too busy with Film 2011. Celebrities lining up are: Noel Fielding; Penny Smith; Rebecca Front; designers Colin and Justin; Russell Kane; Andi Osho and Ed Byrne! Routines will include Crazy in Love, Bad and I Love To Boogie (Billy Elliot).

Sky have launched a voting app on I-phone for Got To Dance and the top 28 have been revealed, with the first semi on Sunday at 6pm.

Glee: Finding their religion

And in a complete change to last week ... Finn finds religion - in a grilled cheese sarnie - but Kurt's anti-religious views affect the club, specially when his dad suffers a heart attack and lapses into a coma. The last thing his dad said to Kurt was that he was disappointed in him for snubbing the family dinner. (He comes round at the end)

As Sue says (To Kurt, re Glee Club): I mess around with you guys for fun; it aids digestion!

Songs of the night: Only the Good Die Young (Puck); I Look To You (Mercedes); Papa Can you Hear Me (Rachel); I Wanna Hold Your Hand (Kurt - have a hanky ready); Losing My Religion (Finn - it had to happen - after praying to win their soccer game/grope Rachel/be quarterback again, the injury to the existing quarterback makes him guilty!) Bridge Over Troubled Water (Mercedes) and What If God Were One of Us (All).

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

South Bank Sky Arts Award: The Dorchester Outstanding Achievement

An almost reverential silence greeted Oscar winning actress Dame Judi Dench in the press room, after she was honoured with The Dorchester Outstanding Achievement award, for a 50 year career that sees her remain at the top of her field.



Sir Peter Hall, who first worked with Dame Judi in a 1962 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, presented her with the award.





Dame Judi gave an emotional acceptance speech, in which she said she was overwhelmed to receive the award - and hoped it didn't mean she had to finish now!


South Bank Sky Arts Award: Film

Harry Potter star, Rupert Grint, presented the award for Best Film to director Gareth Edwards, for his low budget sci-fi disaster/romantic road trip movie Monsters. The budget was reportedly less than £200,000 and the film beat off a challenge from Mike Leigh's Another Year and Clio Barnard's The Arbor. Gareth is on the left in the photos, I never did find out who the other chap was, so I'm calling him Daniel ... you'll 'guess' why if you've got kids!

South Bank Sky Arts Award: Theatre and Literature

Critics favourite Clybourne Park at The Royal Court were presented with the Theatre Award by Richard Griffiths. In a strong year for original theatre, the nominees beaten by Clybourne were Earthquakes in London, National Theatre and Ruined, Almeida Theatre.

The Literature award was presented by Mariella Frostrup to Candia McWilliam for What To Look For in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness. Other nominees were The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal and Sex and Stravinsky by Barbara Trapido.

South Bank Sky Arts Award: Classical Music

The BBC Philharmonic and the Halle for Mahler's 8th Symphony triumphed over Liverpool Philharmonic (Mahler's 1st, 2nd ad 3rd) and As With Voices and with Tears, the recent work of new composer Tansy Davies, performed at Portsmouth Cathedral by Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir, London Mozart Players and Andrew Cleary. Nigel Kennedy presented.

South Bank Sky Arts Award: Pop Music

Plan B was the winner of the Pop Music Award, for his album The Defamation of Strickland Banks. However, he was not in attendance to collect the award from Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, who I completely missed - what can I say, I was probably talking. The other nominees in this catergory were Foals for Total Life Forever and Disc-overy by Tinie Tempah, who was there, but I didn't get a picture of him, either *sighs*

I did, though, get pictures of the artists who performed at the ceremony! Nigel Kennedy, with Bond and John Dankworth; Bryn Terfel and Alfie Boe; The Noisettes, who a cameraman kindly informed me were not chocolates in Quality Street. Hm, clearly a philistine. Sir, you will find they are green triangles ...




South Bank Sky Arts Award: Times Breakthrough Award

The Times Breakthrough Award is given to the best new artistic talent and was awarded to the band Everything Everything, by actress Andrea Risborough. The other nominees were: Greg Davies (Comedy); Nicholas Collon (Classical Music); Brian Maloney (Dance); Clio Barnard (Film); Neel Mukherjee (Literature); Pumeza Matahikiza (Opera); Andrew Scott (Theatre); Michelle Dockery (TV Drama) and Simon Fujiwara (Visual Arts).

I was fortunate enough to meet the band's manager too, Duncan Ellis... or rather Drunken Ellis, who had already been on the stuff that I partook of later, I reckon - the Melvyn Bragg cocktail comprising, I'm told: vodka, lychee juice, ginger beer and spring onions. Not a combo I'd normally go for but it was delicious, very refreshing and fruity and consequently, three of them in one hour resulted in numb lips and a fuzzy view of the proceedings in the hospitality room.

Duncan was pretty made up at his boys winning and, with girlfriend and mum both absent, I was nearest - cue hugging. Aw, bless, under the circumstances, I was happy to oblige - not every day I get cuddles from a young fit bloke. But you're lucky I'm no bunny boiler Duncan!

I pondered how I'd get home over an enormous white wine spritzer in the other bar, the hotel's very own, very funky bar, considering how classic everywhere else is in the Dorchester. It may have been my eyes. My eyes! I really must try to remember where I left them ...

South Bank Sky Arts Award: Best Comedy

BBC Two's Rev won the award and it was presented by Sir David Frost. They were a rowdy lot, lining them up was a nightmare ... but I got that lovely shot, with Tom Hollander looking straight into my camera, whoop!

Steve Coogan's on-line only offering Mid Morning Matters With Alan Partridge had also been nominated, along with the BBC 4 offering, Getting On, starring Jo Brand.

South Bank Sky Arts Award: Opera

The Opera award was presented to the Welsh National Opera for Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, by the lovely Lesley Garret. Fellow nominees were ENO for A Dog's Heart and Billy Budd at Glyndebourne.

Naturally, I couldn't resist asking Lesley about her ex-Strictly Come Dancing partner, Anton Du Beke and how jealous was she of Ann Widdecombe? She knew they'd make a fabulous partnership, saying that Anton is a most supportive and funny man and they keep in touch by text and telephone. Anton was able to show how brilliant he was and much as she was supporting them throughout, she did confess to being a little worried that Ann would pinch her semi-final record with him!

South Bank Sky Arts Awards: Dance and Visual Arts

Nominees for the Dance category included Asphodel Meadows, Royal Ballet, and Liam Scarlett & Hofesh Shechter's Political Mother at Sadlers Wells, but it was Akram Khan with Gnosis at Sadler Wells who received the award, presented to him by the Ballet Boyz.

The award for Visual Arts was presented to Tacita Dean for Craneway Event, Frith Street Gallery, by Gilbert and George. The other nominees were Angela de la Cruz for After and Josephine King for Life So Far, Riflemaker.

South Bank Sky Arts Award: TV Drama

A hotly contested category, with the BBC's Sherlock competing against E4's Misfits but both succumbing to Channel 4's This is England '86.

Victoria Wood presented the prize to Shane Meadows for the series, which has been praised as 'funny' 'moving' and 'astonishingly good'. Victoria herself was extremely moved, commenting: "I don't normally cry in the morning ... not since I've been single ..." whilst Shane confirmed sequels for Christmas '88 and This is .. '90, although expressing concerns re sequels eg. Grease 2!

For aspiring female comedy writers out there, Victoria's advice was: Cross it out and do it again!

The South Bank Sky Arts Awards

Thanks to the lovely people at Spreading Jam, I was backstage at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards yesterday, predominantly taking photos but also managing to nab a few words here and there.

One of the world's most coveted arts awards, celebrating the best of British culture and achievement, this is the 15th year of the awards and was hosted, as ever, by Melvyn Bragg. The glittering ceremony was attended by some of the most illustrious patrons, practitioners and performers of the creative arts and the winners were presented with an award designed by Turner prize winning sculptor Anish Kapoor.

Award recipients were Dame Judi Dench (Outstanding Achievement); Plan B (Best Pop); This is England 86 (TV Drama); Monsters (Best Film); Rev (Best Comedy); Clybourne Park (Theatre); BBC Philharmonic and The Halle (Classical Music); Everything Everything (The Times Breakthrough); Akram Khan (Dance); Candia McWilliam (Literature); Welsh National Opera (Opera) and Tacita Dean (Visual Arts).

Melvyn Bragg said: "The phenomenal shortlist and truly inspirational list of winners is further proof, if it were ever needed, that the arts in this country are vibrant and thriving. With such a wide array of winners, from Plan B to Die Meistersingers, This is England '86 to Clybourne Park, this is a much needed opportunity to thank and honour the dedication and breadth of talent at work in this country."

I'm not even going to attempt to put all the photos and details into one blog post - that would be madness, so you'll have to be patient! I shall post a dedicated piece to each winner for you instead, in nice easy, bitesize chunks - I may even have them all done by the end of the day!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Dancing on Ice Live Blog, Week Three: Judges back in the game.

Top hat and tails meets 70s retro, we've a mixed bag tonight by the look of it.

Katilla, in the top hat and tails out first, to Minnie the Moocher. It's cool and smooth, nailed the lift, great musical timing for most part. Score: 16 Emma says it's cool in a classic way but be more of a leading man; Robin says he brought the flavour, don't slouch but really well done and Jason says that moments executed were pretty good but needs to elongate his lines and present better. Karen and Jason are off already - Karen praises Rob/Ice for studying the style and being out of his comfort zone.

Emma got engaged during the interval and is also pregnant - I mean to say, that's bloody quick work, isn't it? Not sure Jade would want everyone to know it's manageable during an interval ...

Michloe next to The Climb, in which she's doing the Sinitta lift - remember that? A very pretty start, some lovely skating and the lift is perfect, nice lines throughout. Score: 19 well deserved. Robin likes her determination, trnasitions, but turn out more; Jason says she's very stable but had a baboon's bum (see, obsessed!) Emma says she was smoother and softer than last week, lovely to see her blossoming.

Mattise are camping it up to Abba's Gimme Gimme Gimme, with a few lovely lads thrown in. Denise out on her own to begin with, checking out the booty ... she's found her man and there's nice lifts but not an awful lot of skating; the smile still looking a bit fixed. Score: 9 Jason says it was better in rehearsal, lacked the man eating cougar, not stepping up in performance. Robin says she needs to allow it to flow and have fun with it; Emma says she's fun to watch, she brings energy and sparkle.

Domandra going for difficulty - death spiral alert! Skating to Feel, nice solo spot, a little bit nervy but a big fall in rehearsal has knocked the confidence - nailed the spiral and other big lift too. Score: 11.5 Emma says he's a selfish performer, couldn't see why she was there *boos* (clearly, he was rattled by the fall and was concentrating extra hard) Jason says stiff and rigid, no showmanship; Karen agrees there was tightness but reminds them of the fall; Robin says adequate and tentative.

Colaurin out next to All The Lovers - what is that skirt all about - still, terrific skate, she's growing on me, very fast and assured, could be a little more elegant. Score: 19.5 Top of the board. Jason says she has great musicality and it's an enigmatic partnership but watch the stumpy legs in and out of lifts; Emma adores watching her and says she'll be brilliant when the confidence comes.

Stevina skate to Rhythm of the Night - unfortunately, the arms at the beginning look likes he's waving someone off down the docks. Timing is out but I thought he was steadier on his skates this time, though he needs to support his partner more and the missed choreography session is showing. Score: 7 Robin says he's enjoyable but for the wrong reasons, skating not good; Jason called him a natural disaster, like watching a drunk holiday maker at a seaside disco!

Jeffabelle with I Want You Back - nice crossovers, nice lift, a natural dancer, a couple of stumbles put the timing out, especially the spins, but he pulled it back each time. Score: 11 "Group inseminations" *eek* his "little petit filous"? Stop talking now Jeff! Jason says sloppy and messy, missing a couple of chromosones but a solid partnering; Karen says it doesn't need to be so personal, they're skating under pressure; Robin agreed with everyone, wasn't as smooth but was technically difficult. Emma feels frustrated (hardly surprising, see earlier note) so much better in rehearsal, something not quite there yet. Command our attention, butts in Robin.

Fravitty have a dance lesson before taking to the ice for The Way You Look Tonight - and he's much better than before, shoulders a little hunched and timing is shocking but no strings attached, more fluid over the ice. Score: 9.5 Robin says he sort of coped, but slow and controlled, needs some punch; Jason says he can't dance, can't perform, can't hear the beat but finds him entertaining, though technically a disaster; Emma says lacking in timing and rhythm, they were chuckling.

Jennibonbon and work is taking its toll - yuck, nasty looking leg. Skating to California Gurls and she's out on her own to begin, great step section, a little sticky on the leg sweep thing but a great routine, showing her fun side. Score: 19.5 . Jason liked the confidence and how she unfurled in her movements, some awkwardness, fun was missing? Robin says the character comes and goes; Emma loved her beautiful lines but keep control.

Samianne to Stop and Stare and oh, wow - he is just gorgeous to watch, nailed the spiral, and the big lift, beautiful controlled and lyrical skating and acted the part too. Score: 25 Emma just wanted to stand, a joy to watch; Robin rates the power and control in the partnership connection, beautiful to watch, a semi-final performance. Karen says he's so exciting to work with, tonight a massive achievement.

Johnseyne is Into Something Good - why am I thinking Shooting Stars? Oh, yeah, cos we really wanna see that finger ... two assisted jumps! That was a lovely, clean and very sweet skate, confident and cheery. Score: 13 Jason compliments his attitude *rest, take note* says it was more assured but needs performance and dance work; Robin says it's not as smooth technically and needs a bit more oomph, let it go!

Kerriel ... please, quit with the whining ... skating to Respect - someone's dropped a bottle of ink down her back - bit ungainly, good lifts but unconvincing in the character I thought, not a comfortable skate, and not much skating actually. Score: 14 Robin says she's being herself (emotionally unstable?) and more skating is needed. Jason says she's too reliant on Daniel and has clunky transitions but Emma, while agreeing on technical skills likes that's she's expressive, has energy and character and it was a fun routine.

Back at 9.30pm then!

The Skate-off: Safe - Kerriel; Samianne; Fravitty; Johnseyne; Colaurin; Katilla; Jeffabelle; Jennibonbon; Michloe; Mattise! It's Domandra versus Stevina! Domandra still a little nervy but no mistakes and good movement over the ice. Stevina can't really compete with that and it's a clean sweep with the judges - although Jason wishes it was a double eviction, Robin says he's glad it isn't, there's more to come from Domandra.

Shake up next week ... never done before on DOI ... could change the whole direction ... no-one will be safe ... the skaters find out tomorrow, we have to wait till Sunday.What are they going to do? Swapping partners? Any ideas?

South Bank Sky Arts Awards - Tuesday

The South Bank Sky Arts Awards are upon us on Tuesday, having found a new home – note the ‘Sky’ slipped in there – but still with Master Melvyn at the helm. (Sky Arts channel, 9pm).

Nominated in the Dance category are: Abstract ballet Asphodel Meadows by Liam Scarlett; Hofesh Shechter’s Political Mother; Akram Khan’s Gnosis

And in Pop, the nominees are: Plan B for The Defamation of Strickland Banks; Foals for Total Life Forever; Tinie Tempah for Disc-overy.

I’m no expert in the arts but I thought I’d take a moment to chat about someone from the world of dance who crept into my consciousness last year and whose work I wish I could see more of: Matthew Bourne.

Matthew made an impression on me during the first UK series of So You Think You Can Dance last year, when the last five boys had the chance to showcase their skills via his stunning interpretation of Swan Lake. Considering there was only one natural ballet dancer among them it became one of my favourite routines from the whole series.

Then of course, I found that snippet where he praised Tom Chambers – would you believe, even now, there are still those who can’t admit that Tom can dance and seem to think SCD Series 6 was won by the wrong person! Crazy, isn’t it? How can you argue though, with someone of Matthew’s calibre?

Matthew, as you see, isn’t nominated in this year’s South Bank Awards; I expect they’re saving him up for a lifetime achievement award! As ‘probably the world’s most successful choreographer’, he’d get my vote!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Glee - Britney night!

Brittany is hilarious. Official. She's also a stunning dancer and was the star of this week's Glee! Emma's cute dentist boyfriend turned up and induced sexy dreams in everyone. Not because he's cute but because of the dental gas! Will tried to convinced everyone he wasn't uptight and didn't manage it until Sue convinced him to let Glee club do the Britney number - by insisting that they shouldn't!

One of those lines you almost miss: "Students who ate the ravioli today and not up to speed with their tetanus jab, see the nurse!" Principal Figgis, before the big show number.

Big songs of the night: Hit Me Baby One More Time; Stronger; Toxic - the song; the only video of the dance I could find - you'll have to somehow open them at the same time!

Glaswegian Dance Stars Take Centre Stage

Up-and-coming dancers from across Glasgow are preparing to battle it out on the big stage, as a coveted nationwide competition to find the UK’s hottest dance acts takes place in the city.

Barclays Live 2011 will kick off in Glasgow on Saturday 22nd January, with ten of the city’s best dance acts chosen to perform on a grand stage in the Food Court at St Enoch Centre, in front of a large crowd and a panel of celebrity judges, including Strictly Come Dancing winner Karen Hardy.

The panel will deliver their verdict after each performance and then the top five acts will make it through to the final and perform again on the same day. It won’t just be the judges that they’ll need to impress however, as the finalists will then be subject to a public vote on http://www.barclayslive.co.uk/ to decide the winner of the Glasgow competition and receive a £1,000 prize.

Entries have flooded in from the region’s hottest dance acts after it was announced that the event would take place in Scotland for the first time.

The Barclays Live auditions will form part of a day-long programme of events to celebrate the official opening of the Glasgow branch, including a dance master class by Karen Hardy and performances from a variety of outstanding guest dance acts.

Karen Hardy says “Barclays Live is a great opportunity for dancers in Glasgow to take to the stage and showcase their talent. I am really looking forward to watching some great performances and I’d like to invite anyone in the area on Saturday 22nd January to pop down to St. Enoch Centre and join me for a dance masterclass.”

Last year, the young street dance duo Steadiflux from Birmingham were crowned Barclays Live UK Champions after beating off stiff competition in the form of UK Hip Hop champions Smash Broz and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists Mini Mezzos. They then picked up over 100,000 votes nationally to take the title and a further £1,000 prize.

Picture: The Barclays Guards - fingers crossed they're also back!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Dancing on Ice: Live Blog, Week Two: Glimpses of showmanship.

What have they done with Vanilla Ice's hair? And the ice panel are being, quite, well, bolshy really, about who we should vote for. I'm not sure I like it ... here's a reminder of the team names.

Craigia kicking us off tonight, tough job already, learning by dvd. Skating to Sympathy for the Devil and he's presenting Maria very well, bit slow, but nice timing, no wobbles, big on personality, potential, great connection already. Score: 9 Robin says it's evident more time is needed; Emma likes that he's fun and wants to see more; Jason says the costume covered a multitude of sins and came up with a poo-based critique again. Jason, why so obsessed with the brown stuff?

Jennibonbon are the loved-up couple and we're going to keep repeating it until you believe it. Again. And again. And again. They probably can't really stand each other. Skating to Crazy For You (see!) a wobble and a slip out of the big lift spoiled what was otherwise a classy and elegant routine. Score: 11 or 12, I didn't write it down! Jason says nerves got the better of her; Robin says she's a natural quality skater and Emma agrees with Jason that we need to see the chemistry they keep telling us about.

Fravitty next with The Safety Dance and it was a bit, apart from attempting a jump! A little wobble and seemed to be concentrating very hard. Score: 11 Emma pleased to see him pushing himself; Robin picks out some technical stuff, including the jump; Jason says he has great moves for radio but he has potential.

Lukalen next and oh, dear - you don't question the choreography love, you just don't! Quite liking her actually but would you stop with the winking, please! Skating to Your Love Is King, transitions a little sticky, but I liked it overall, I think there's potential if she relaxes, she seems happy to try all the moves, some lovely lifts. Score: 11 She's poked her tongue out! Robin says it needs to flow more, Emma thought she looked uncomfortable and tells her to go for it; Jason asked where the passion was (being Spanish: She said she'll bring it next week).

Torvill and Dean accompany Ellie Goulding and Your Song with a beautiful, moving and lyrical routine. Is it just my telly that's playing up or is it ITV? First six VT ... oh, Ice's hair is always like that ... and ... oh, thanks Phil - it is ITV. Loving Johnson's matching bandage ...

Domandra up next - come on the cricketer! I'm not biased, no, I'm really not. Don't let me down, Dom. No pressure, but we just won the Ashes and Goughie won Strictly the year we won the Ashes ... Skating to Are You Ready (for Love) and there's an (n)ice easy way about him, acting it out, good connection, he enjoyed himself and I thought he skated confidently. Score: 11 Jason says he started stiff and rigid but he saw glimpses of showman; Emma says he's adorable to watch but he needs more confidence? Robin top scores him because he was impressed that he made Alexandra skate up to him, he had lovely control and a natural charisma. And Goughie is in the audience, channelling Ramprakash vibes .. 09016161005 is the number.

Michloe skating to Mama Do - famous daughter, d'you see what they did there? Most confident and accomplished skate of the night, you'd never think she was still really a beginner. Score: 16 She was top of Emma's leaderboard but she needs a bit more character; Robin says she's totally in control but watch the leg line and Jason tells her she's not dreadful; Karen says she deserved the high scores, she's talented and a natural skater and it was a very advanced routine.

Samiane and the ex-Ender is our experienced guy, from chasing skirt at the local ice rink on a Saturday night. Skating to Club Can't Handle Me? He can dance, nice to see some rhythm and grooviness and a terrific skate, big performance. Score: 21 Emma says he's brilliant to watch; Jason called it very strong, punchy and assured but don't rush; Robin says he's fantastic, there was instant chemistry but don't cheat on the detail!

Last but not least, Mattise, skating to Brush Up, it's a fun routine, a big lift I wasn't expecting, full of character - lose the fixed smile though! Score: 10 Gets a vote for having Matt in a uniform, that's always welcome. Jason says there are moments of promise combined with Matt skating with his mum (Karen calls him disrepectful) but he does applaud the commitment and energy.

Back at 9.30pm!

Recap - Robin concerned for Chloe and Dominic, a bit strange after what he said earlier, that they'd both be around for a while. Here we go moment #1: Fravitty; Samianne; Domandra, Yes! Michloe; Mattise!

It's Craigia v Jennibonbon v Lukalen to skate off! Yes, well we know Craig's a larger than life character Chris - but you want us to vote for skating not personality, so ... you could end up with a great bunch of skaters that bore the pants off people and the fans not caring who wins! It has to be a combination, has to be.

Craigia out first and does a good job, better than before. Jennibonbon next, another little stumble but nailed the lift, superb says Chris. Has probably done enough to stay in. Lukalen last up, another very nice performance but I doubt nice will be enough.

And the 12th couple is: Jennibonbon! Congrats to them and roll on next week!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

'Three Minutes' with Harry Shum Jnr and Stephen 'tWitch' Boss

If you haven't seen this, it's a must - it's not dancing, but they are two of the top dancers in the world today. I'd swear the lightsabre battle could be put to music, the lyrical movement in their bodies is so evident! There's an interview with Harry here too.

Britain's Got Talent Rigged!!??? *Gasps*

Altough, I wouldn't say it's entirely rigged, just much more of a production than even I thought! I always knew that judges on this and X-Factor didn't actually see all those acts (obviously, come on - those queues!) but I never realised acts were headhunted and bypassed the auditions, even those like the burping man last year (presumably, those novelty 'acts' are there just to give the judges ammunition). I wonder how much influence Ant and Dec have in that - isn't it their production company that run all their shows? It won't stop me enjoying it but I can imagine the acts who queue in good faith must feel a bit hard done by.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Snippets: Strictly Come Dancing on Ice!

Dancing on Ice contestant, Jeff Brazier, is featured in the News of the World's Fabulous magazine this week, speaking of how he and his boys talk all the time about their mum, Jade Goody: “We talk about Jade all the time. The subject of Mummy is always there.”
He'd also love the get the X-Factor gig: “I’d love to get The Xtra Factor presenting job this year and I think it’s what I’d best be suited to. People sometimes have an impression of me that isn’t necessarily correct.”
And he shares the secret of ice dancing success in those trousers ... “Those trousers are so tight you can practically see what I had for lunch. So I decided to wear them every day to get used to them. I’ve even picked the boys up from school in them, which has caused a bit of a stir in the playground!”
With thanks to Fabulous and the News of the World for the snippets and photo of Jeff.

Nadia Sawalha was wasted on Dancing on Ice, I think we can all agree she's a lovely bubbly personality who can dance off the ice and is now wishing she'd gone for Strictly! Go for it next year, Nadia, we'd love to see you!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Strictly Come Dancing - Strictly Shimmer!

Strictly Shimmer is a fictionalised account of Strictly Come Dancing doing the rounds, written by Amanda Roberts, a backstage staff member. Now you'd think I'd be gagging to buy it, wouldn't you - but the reviews are putting me off! On the one hand, if you're a fan willing to indulge purely on the basis it's about Strictly, then great. On the other, if you're a bit of a pedant when it comes to spelling and grammar (I know I'm not perfect but I do at least re-read and try to catch the errors!) you may end up reading with a red pen in your hand! And if the plot has the holes they say, I'd probably end up re-writing it myself. Which I really don't have time to do! So if you've read it, give me an unbiased opinion!

Got To Dance Auditions 2: Mr Bombastic and The Gingerbread Man

Razzle Dazzle, fantastic energy, these kids rock - like name like nature; Miss Bombastic, no - but a 'YES PLEASE' to Mr. Bombastic Ashley; Ella, lyrical and musical, good mix of styles; the slick Dance Dynamix; awesome Lauren; well cool Blue Magic, unusual, good moves; Rok Chix, bit meh. The Gingerbread Man-iac, fun, definitely a creative!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Ultimate Guide for Singers!

Internationally recognised voice coach, Pete Moody, has published a book called ‘How to be a Pop Sensation.’

It’s a new guide for singers of all abilities and can be used as a personal guide to becoming a professional singer or as teaching aid for training others. There are twenty three comprehensive chapters covering all stages of performing and launching a singing career, from Keeping It Real – how to wow audiences and stir their emotions, to putting together a promotional pack to increase your chances of being noticed.

If you want to make it in the music business, this is the bible for you! Visit Pete’s website to uy the book and read testimonials from current and former pupils. There are also reviews of the book on Amazon you won’t want to miss!

Published in the UK by Gibson Publishing ISBN 9780956710116 £14.99 plus P&P.
Recommended by www.xfactorliveusa.com

Monday, 10 January 2011

It's back: Gleeks Unite!

Sue and Will join forces against the new football coach, who I think is the old coach in drag. But I could be wrong. Rachel is very naughty and sends a rival to a crack house instead of a New Directions audition; Arnie tries for the football team, which gets Finn thrown off it - so he auditions for Cheerios.

As Sue Says It: "You'll deafen them with the sound of your stretch marks rubbing together" - To Quinn, trying out for Cheerios.

On Santana's "insult to nature" summer boob job: "You're bottom of the pyramid, so if it fails your exploding sandbags will protect the squad from injury".

Tonight's big numbers: Alicia/JayZ's Empire State of Mind - Telephone - Billionaire - Listen - What I Did For Love.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Dancing on Ice Live Blog, Week One: Let's Get It Started!

And it's a flashy return in a fantastic new studio, very glitzy, just like T&D's first foray onto the ice with a showbiz spectacular, showing off the new pro dancers! Eight to skate, two to leave - Jayne says to look out for three particular skaters - which is a little unfair, don't you think? If you don't want a bad skater kept in over a good'un, why leave it up to the public? Imagine how the other contestants all feel now? Here's a reminder of the team names! And it's marks out of TEN this time around!

First up, it's Stevina to House of Fun and it's brave first try, bit stiff and pedestrian, but he has personality, a shame about a couple of stumbles. The judges score: 7 Robin says he can skate better but nerves took over, Jason says it was entertaining but didn't sustain it and Emma says there's potential.

Next, Seangela with At Last and it's elegant, with lovely hands, slight sticky moment but overall that was pretty darn good, simple and classy. Score: 11 Emma says it was a sweet performance, Robin says it had a serenity about it, lovely hands and legs, Jason, being Jason, says it was dull and safe and that she didn't connect emotionally with the choreography. Karen welcomes him back and applauds Angela's work ethic and calls it a great performance.

McLeans still sponsoring then ... but it's all about the one girl, what happened to the couples? Coo, Philip got the vocal chords round Colin's name - it's Colaurin on ice next ... *eek* to that hole in her leg ... to My Life Would Suck Without You. Big lifts and loads of content, nifty footwork, not perfect but an excellent effort, already accomplished. Score: 16 Robin says there's energy and gusto but let Colin lead; Emma called it fast, brave and exciting; Jason agrees but lose the goofy look, great potential.

Come on Phil, get with the programme - a moment's stunned silence with a mix up on the tapes!Johnsyene next and hero Johnson is really progressing, from never having stepped on ice before! Dancing to Wishing on a Star, it's smooth, they have a lovely partnership, a gentle performance to a gentle version of a gorgeous song. Score: 11 Robin says his bladework was sublime, Emma says he was very supportive of Jodene, Jason says he needs to project out and he'll be lucky to get through, to general boos and hisses. Karen mimes chopping his head off. His phone number is 09016161004. Just in case you missed it.

Maradia with Proud Mary, bless, she's probably the only 'personality' who appeals but she's so nervous but - timing and musicality, no mistakes, nice lift, thoroughly enjoyed herself and is FUN! Yay! Score: 9 "You've no idea how slippery it is," she says, with an aside, mid Phil-chat to Mark "Was it alright?" Chris calls her larger than life, Jason says she started with great potential then her legs went numb. Emma liked the energy, smiling and performance, lines and extensions.

Kerriel on the ice to To Make You Feel My Love and her moves are very placed and deliberate but nice lines, lovely end spin. I didn't get the emotion, looked more like nerves to me, same expression all the way through. Score: 14 Robin says you can't fake the emotion, Jason says it was an improvement on the dress rehearsal, it was tender and controlled.

Jeffabelle next with The Way Love Goes and why keep a move in that someone can't do? As it happens, he almost pulled it off, well done, just a hand down. Noticeably more relaxed once that was out of the way - and he actually skated and moved around the ice well. And confident partnering. Score: 11 Emma loving the dance moves, commit a little more though; Robin sees the potential with the natural speed over the ice and Jason says there's not enough power and strength and gets verbally beaten up by Karen. Don't you just love it?

Do we care who will win the heart of the girl with the perfect smile? *Fetches sick bucket*

Katilla skating to Word Up so should be full of attitude ...it was, and obviously much musicality - and jeez, voice over guy, now all the kids are asking who Ann Summers is, you moron. Big lifts, good performance. Steady Chris. Score: 15 Jason's highest score, he says it was a great performance, played to his strengths, great partnering. Emma says it was exciting and fun, work on posture. Robin saw great skating, bit rough around the edges but that will come.

So five will go straight through and then there'll be a triple skate off,when the lines will open again for us to save another! So who's going out? The two that made the least impression on me were Kerriel and Stevina, but I only voted for Maradia and Johnseyne. What time are we back? *note to self: pay attention*

Robin wants Johnson, Laura, Vaniila and Kerry to go through; Jason impressed by Laura and Vanilla; Emma too, with Laura, Vanilla, Jeff and Kerry.

And here we go moment #1: Safe - Katilla; Johnseyne; Jeffabelle; Stevina; Kerriel. So Laura, top skater of the night, unable to overturn the big fanbases of reality tv and soapland - is now up against Angela and my fave, Nadia.

Seangela skating first and a little stumble again and now not so confident - too good to be ITV's Widdefactor though. Colaurin next - he's worth a vote too - more nerves kicking in but it's a big routine, nice backflip. I'm abstaining because they're the best but Nadia's my fave. Maradia out last and - she just makes me smile, hers is so infectious - and she is seriously hooked, a better performance too!

Last couple standing: Colaurin! Well, it had to be didn't it, or they'd have to change the whole format back again next year ... we start all over again next week!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Birmingham Duo Crowned Best UK Dance Act 2010

Streetdance act ‘Steadiflux’ have been crowned the first ever Barclays Live UK Dance Champions following a hotly-contested public vote. Students Nathan Marsh (18) and Jordan Breakspear (19) from Bartley and Harborne respectively, picked up over 100,000 votes on their march to the crown, beating off intense competition from top acts across the UK. See the winning dance here!

Having overcome stiff opposition from such acts as UK HipHop champions Smash Broz and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists Mini Mezzos to become Barclays Live Birmingham champions last year, the duo are now officially top of the pile and will be dancing all the way to their nearest Barclays branch with a bumper £1,000 cheque! Speaking afterwards, Nathan said: “It’s an amazing feeling to be Barclays Live UK Champions! We put in a lot of work to come up with a clean, entertaining piece and feel the effort has paid off. We were up against some great acts and just want to thank everyone for their votes and continued support.”

Barclays Live was rolled out in various regions across the UK in 2010 with celebrity judges including Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole and Sky Sports pundit Chris Kamara. Five acts from Birmingham, Bristol, London, Manchester and Reading were then shortlisted for the prestigious title of Barclays Live Best UK Dance Act 2010, with videos hosted at www.barclayslive.co.uk and fans voting for their favourites online.

The Barclays Live competition celebrates continued investment in branches across the country and will pull up at a host of regions in 2011, starting with Glasgow at the end of January. In addition to the events sweeping the nation, Barclays Live has also teamed up with StreetDance 3D star Brooke Milliner to create Your Name in Dance, an interactive dance tool showing a users name in choreographed dance form. Check it out at http://barclayslive.co.uk/interactive.php

For all the latest news and upcoming events ‘like’ Barclays Live on Facebook www.facebook.com/BarclaysLive and follow @BarclaysLive on Twitter

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Snippets: Diversity; Black Swan

A comprehensive why-you-should-see-this-film list for Black Swan.

And Diversity have a fitness DVD out! Catch a glimpse below.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Strictly Come Dancing: The one that got away!

The training video for a much anticipated dance we didn't get to see, has been released: James Jordan and Pamela Stephenson's Argentine Tango! You can imagine how brilliant it would have been with full hair, costume, make up and live music; it may have even made the difference, who knows? Enjoy:

Snippets: Strictly Come Dancing On Ice; National Television Awards

Digital Spy interviews with Dancing on Ice Contestants Johnson Beharry and Nadia Sawalha.

The final voting for the 2011 National Television Awards has opened, with talent show hosts Davina McCall, Ant & Dec and Dermot O'Leary up against Paul O'Grady for Best Entertainment Presenter. No Bruce, no Tess, no Claudia? Ah, well, it'll be Ant & Dec anyway. Because they are the best.

The usual suspects go head to head in the Best Talent Show: Strictly Come Dancing, Britain's Got Talent, X-Factor and Dancing on Ice. If I recall, I voted for Let's Dance for Comic Relief, so my vote will now switch to ...*drum roll*... Strictly Come Dancing, because the last series is still fresh in my mind and was brilliant! Register your vote now: http://www.nationaltvawards.com/home

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Got To Dance Auditions 1: A bicycle, a robot and Scatwoman.

In no particular order ... A big fat YES to the energetic and tight Eruption, great look, good moves, but Duo? Whaaaaat? Back2Back - gets an Oh Yes! Lovin' the bicycle and Bollywood! Theo, the Mini King of Pop, yes, we've seen it all before, but he's so cute - and right on the beat.

Tamara the freestyler; Sean & Stacey, the contemporary. One athletic and athletic, the others athletic, balletic and musical. Damsha Dreams is fab-u-lous and Olivia, the Tiny Dancer freestyler began so lyrically and beautifully then forgot to finish her lines in the rush to get to the next move - bags of personality though.

Robot Reflex, Aiden McMillan - blinding, and what an amusing, original and quirky piece of music - Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker Suite, what will they think of next?
Persuasive's signature move would be a yes, didn't see enough though.

Happiness. Jeez. No, she's definitely no SuBo. SuBo looked like she would be awful and wasn't. Happiness looked like she danced - completely lacking in timing, musicality and technique. Original, her own style? Quite frankly, David Brent was original but you wouldn't have put him through, would you? It was all talk about warming up and how she performs and then the bombshell that this is the first time in public? Matt Bell's fusion of ballet, hip hop and Morris was much better! And he's taking the mick. There's £250k riding on this - is she really going to keep out someone who can actually dance? Can the producers and judges on these programmes just not help themselves? And why do we not know if she made it through? Are they embarrassed with themselves? Seriously, if she can go through, I'm dusting off my leg warmers next year ...

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Snippets: Strictly Come Dancing; Louie Spence, Dancing on Ice, Got To Dance

Strictly Come Dancing stars Vincent Simone & Flavia Cacace, Natalie Lowe & Ian Waite, Chris Marques & Jaclyn Spencer and Darren Bennett & Lilia Kopylova will be at Alton Towers in March.

Madcap interview with Louie Spence!

Q&A with Dancing on Ice contestant, 'Comedy' Dave Vitty.

Interview with Got To Dance judges Ashley Banjo, Adam Garcia and Kimberley Wyatt.