It's Love Week on Strictly Come Dancing 2013 which meant all fourteen remaining contestants dancing to famous smoochie tunes. And I settled down to watch wondering whether the romance theme left some of the celebs with a bit of an advantage. Some dances are just more loved up than others - a jive is never going to compete with a rumba or a waltz in the romance stakes. But that's the luck of the draw and some stars managed to make the least romantic dances into lovefests. And with Bruce back in charge (it was so nice to see him, to see him nice) and hearts and flowers everywhere, what wasn't to love about Love Week?
Natalie and Ben get lots of love from the judges
The rumba, as all Strictly fans know, is the dance of love. It's also one of the least exciting to watch. I've never really got the rumba. It usually means men looking awkward with unfastened bowties. But on Love Week, dancing the dance of love must help. And like all top sportsmen, Ben Cohen took the good draw and worked it to his advantage. The rugby winger had barely moved in his last two appearances but suddenly, he could barely stop moving. A score of twenty eight left him in the top half of the leaderboard for the first time.
The other rumba star was Natalie Gumede who just gets better and better. Her routine was as fabulous as I've come to expect from her in the couple of weeks of competition so far and left her at the top of the board, again, with a total of thirty six. And I was left in shock - I actually enjoyed the rumba this time round.
Susanna and Fiona waltz into safety
Waltzes are another dreamy, romantic dance so Susanna Reid must have been delighted to know that she had a Viennese version for Love Week. She had been worried about the routine but her concerns didn't show as she danced her way to second place with a total of thirty four. She is turning into a serious contender. But I hope she loses the glittery eyeliner next week. There's not much that doesn't look good on Susanna but that came close.
Fiona Fullerton was another lucky contestant with a waltz for Love Week. As she had come close to falling over last week before almost taking her partner, Anton, out with a kick to his shins she had a lot to prove and all but managed it with a sweet if slightly dull routine. But I thought it was much more confident than her first two dances and we might be about to see another contender emerge. Final total, twenty eight.
Sevens all round
There were a lot of twenty eights last night. And a lot of sevens. Every time I looked at the screen, at least one judge seemed to be scoring someone else a seven. They even started competing to do Len's 'Seven!' so much that the man himself said the word normally for the first time in Strictly history. Deborah Meaden's show closing quickstep got four sevens and very well deserved they were too. After picking her as an early faller, every week I love watching her dance even more. Her twenty eight was her best score yet.
A total of twenty eight wasn't great news for Abbey Clancey though as the week one leader has been slowly sliding down the judges' board ever since. I loved her Sixties look for her jive but who thought those socks were a good idea? I hated the socks. It might be a sixties fashion hit but made her look really stompy in a routine that was already in trouble. But then it's a bit of a disadvantage to be dancing a jive when you're meant to be looking romantic.
Vanessa and Julien facing heartbreak
Julien McDonald was another with a jive but to be honest, whatever dance he's given he's going to be one of the worst performers. His routine was as awful as I've come to expect although at least we got a laugh with his attempts at kicks and flicks at the end. Twenty two was too high, in my opinion, but I don't think it will save him from the dance off.
Rachel Riley had the cha, cha to get through but after her dance 'disastah' of last week she pulled a half decent routine out of the bag. But I just wish she'd stop looking so terrified all the way through. Craig told her that her expression of concentration was distracting and I had to agree. Her score of twenty seven might have been higher if she'd looked like she was enjoying herself.
But the biggest disappointment of the night had to be Vanessa Feltz. Her tango was all about unrequited love and the first fifteen seconds were fabulous as she combined major attitude with some great footwork. But after that, it was awful. It was one of those Strictly routines I just wanted to end, so bad it was really bad. Unfortunately, with a score of twenty I think we'll have to sit through it all again in the dance off.
Will big laughs win hearts?
She wasn't bottom of the leaderboard. That honour went to Dave Myers who scored sixteen for his paso doble but as he got a standing ovation and I rewound and watched the routine three times for the laughs, I reckon he'll get more than enough public votes to see him through to next week. Bruce called him the People's Champion while Craig called him dreadful. I thought it was hilarious. He has to stay, he's dance gold.
As is Mark Benton who is a great performer as he proved with his American Smooth. All his routines have been brilliant little stories in themselves and he really sells the dances. Twenty six is his best yet and should see him safely through.
Patrick Robinson is probably OK as well even though his foxtrot was, well, just OK. There was a strange running around bit towards the end and I found the whole thing slightly underwhelming but he managed a total of twenty seven.
The worst draw of all?
Surely the hardest dance of all to make look romantic is the samba. It's a notoriously tricky dance full stop and has derailed many potential winners mid season, usually the ones partnered with James Jordan. Two of the favourites for the title this year had to dance it in Love Week. Sophie Ellis Bextor was on a high after her amazing Charleston of last week which can mean a massive fall but she put in another fabulous performance, scoring thirty one, and if she can make this difficult dance look that easy she's going to take some beating for the glitterball.
But Ashley Taylor Dawson might just be the person to take her on. He was on the samba in Love Week as well and his routine was every bit as impressive as Sophie's. I think he has a tendency to look a bit too keen sometimes, but when he's good, he's really good. Another samba, another total of thirty one. And two serious contenders for the title.
Who will be heartbroken in Love Week?
The next theme week will probably be the Hallowe'en special and the luck of the draw will help other contestants out. Paso dobles and tangoes are far scarier than waltzes so the advantage will probably fall elsewhere then. But if Julien and Vanessa make it that far, I'll be very surprised. They must be favourites for the bottom two this week - I don't think there's that much time for them to keep dancing.
Natalie, 36; Susanna, 34; Ashley, 31; Sophie, 31; Abbey, 28; Ben, 28; Deborah, 28; Fiona, 28.
Patrick, 27; Rachel, 27; Mark, 26; Julien, 22; Vanessa, 20; Dave, 16.